On 29th June the Council leader Dine Romero and Deputy Leader Richard Samuel joined Chief Executive Will Godfrey to discuss financial recovery plans and how best to work with communities, partners and central government to minimise the impact of Covid-19 on essential local services.
Andy Rothery explained that the Total Council Gross Expenditure Revenue Budget for 2020/21 is £352 million. Adults, Children's and Public Health service cost £144 million.
£66 million is generated via external inome of Fees and charges, Tourism and Commercial Estates which is the highest of any other similar Council in the country.
£5.6 million down in lost parking and hertiage income compared to April/May last year. This equals £91,000 a day or 14% of daily spend on services.
Expected loss of income is predicted to be £32 milion for 20/21 alongside increased expenditure of £10 million spent on supporting most vulnerable in social care and COVID-19 demands. This leaves a forecast deficit of £42 million.
Council working towards a projected deficit of zero by looking for in year savings of £20 million by reviewing and reducing costs where demand has fallen, deferring projects, holding vacancies and using corporate mitigation. They will draw down on reserves of £11 milllion and also receive a Government grant of £10 million.
Relevant questions and answers for 3rd Sector
Q. Do the panel envisage a time when Local Authority financial planning will return to a pre COVID-19 position? Will this mean that the reductions in funding of services such as Early Years Specialist Education will be reversed in the near future?(Roz Lambert, First Steps Bath)
A. Early days in terms of understanding the impact on budgets, so focusing on 20/21 year end but Council hoping these are one off measures and not proposing recurrent budget costs. Will Godfrey said the Government must address the longer term underfunding of Adult Social Care and crucial it is funded properly.
Q. How will this impact air pollution?
A. Clean Air Zone will not be affected and will arrive at beginning of 2021. More people have been cycling and walking which is positive. Council not lost long term focus on trying to take actions that reduce CO2 emissions.
Q. The multi agency response to COVID-19 in Banes is rightly being held up as an exemplar nationally. Given the success of our partnership can we have confirmation that a portion of the £850,000 available from the Government can be used to support the long term future of the Hub? James Carlin 3SG
A. The partnership and community response has been excellent and Dine would like to thank each and every volunteer as well as 3SG and Virgin Care. Will Godfrey said engagement with community and partners has been very positive and we are keen to retain as much of this as possible. Working in new ways can be a test for everyone but the benefit have been significant, we want to continue looking at opportunities to enage with communities via as many stakeholders as possible. We are going to have to work differently and enaging with different stakeholders will be an important of what we do.
Q. Many 3rd sector organisations are being asked to make in year budgetary savings and longer term revisions to contracts. The sector wants to support Banes Council on shaping your strategy but can you provide assurance that our current funding will be protected and contracts will remain secure? James Carlin 3SG
A. Will Godfrey said we want honest and open relationships because the circumstances we facing now are very different to earlier in the year. We want to work with a wide range of stakeholders. Council really values contribution the 3rd sector has played across Banes.
Q. What happens if the Council cant balance the books?
A. Council working extrmely hard to avoid this but in the worst case scenario a section 114 notice might have to be issued and UK commissioners would come and run the Council under intense scrutiny for a long period of time.