BREAKDOWN: COUNCIL HIT BY NEAR £10 MILLION SHORTFALL DUE TO CORONAVIRUS CRISIS

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With the Isle of Wight Council announcing a funding shortfall of nearly £10 million in its finances due to the coronavirus pandemic, we look at a breakdown of the figures — as it looks like there will be no further help from the government.

Before the pandemic started, the Isle of Wight Council laid out its plans for the 2020/21 financial year budget which included £4.5 million savings and was, even then, plagued with uncertainties moving forward like the fair funding review and Island Deal that together the council hoped to bring in another £8.9 million to the Island.

Now with the ongoing crisis, the Council has had to be ‘mindful to balance its own fragile but, up to now, improving financial resilience with the emergency needs’ of the Island.

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A report set to go before the Corporate Scrutiny Committee next week, that lays out the ins and outs of the council’s coronavirus action plan, shows the financial position of the council is ‘serious’ — showing despite government funding of an extra £9.05 million it was not enough and a financial gap, or shortfall, of £9.79 million has arisen.

Additional expenses incurred by the Council, of more than £7 million, include £2.2 million worth of Personal Protective Equipment, £950,000 for workforce pressures in adult social care with the need of additional and agency staffing and £658,559 for temporary mortuary costs.

Savings supposed to be made from the 20/21 budget that cannot be made are thought to add £1.1 million to the total expenditure and savings pressure.

However, income that could have been brought in should services have run normally and other resources not been subsidised would have generated more than £10 million for the council. These include parking charges of £3,167,106, leisure centre income of more than £1.7 million and income from the floating bridge of nearly £363,000. Miscellaneous fees and charges, including for registrars, land charges, property, school absence fines, and registry services, would have made more than £1.16 million.

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Council tax cuts and business rate help has been given to many Islanders who need them, but has left an almost £2.3 million whole in the pocket of the council.

In the report, officers said it ‘remains unclear’ as to whether further funding will be sent from central government but the minister of housing, communities and local government, Robert Jenrick, has ‘made it clear’ councils should not expect the government to meet any shortfall.

The Isle of Wight Council is not allowed to let its reserves fall below £7 million which means the savings the council has which can be put towards the shortfall is only £3.2 million — less than a third needed.

The council’s cabinet is in the process of developing a deficit recovery strategy which will allow the council to continue to operate without the need to consider emergency spending controls or service reductions.

Some spending plans, however, which has previously been approved may be placed ‘on hold’ to use the reserves set aside.

The views/opinions expressed in these comments are solely those of the author and do not represent those of Island Echo. House rules on commenting must be followed at all times.
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Bob Frapples

I’ll give Captain Tom a call

Despondant

Increase in council tax then I suppose ! 658000 for unused mortuary units !

Binky

Likely Des, they will yet be needed. Now most youngsters are going about as if there is no virus. Soon many more will be dying, and those beds could well be needed. As likely, HMG know this is going to be the outcome, but they have no other choice, should the UK want to survive economically.

Allchie

These aren’t additional ‘beds’ for unfortunate individuals suffering from Covid they are costs for temporary storing those who have sadly died where existing mortuary spaces (hospital, funeral parlours etc.) have reached their maximum capacity. We have had limited additional Covid related deaths (thankfully) over the past 3-months meaning it’s unlikely we have had to activate this contingency.

Allchie

Considering the Island has throughout this pandemic had the lowest number of Covid 19 cases and associated deaths across the country I’d like to know what data the Council were using to come to a decision to spend £658k on additional mortuary space which hasn’t been needed and most likely will not be.

Lee

You can’t have a go at the council for preparing for the worst. In any crisis management planning you need to have resources you may not need to hand. It is far easier to demobilise when they are not needed rather then desperately trying find a potentially limited resource when you do.
Can you imagine if they did not have this contingency and the death toll was higher. That would clearly look even worse then a financial cost.

Allchie

I’m not criticising the fact. I’m asking what data they based their decision to authorise that level of expenditure. Why was the initial authority not £200k and ramp this up further on a staged basis if the data said things are getting out of control? As it is the respect the Island population has provided in keeping to social distancing rules has kept the impact relatively small and not overwhelmed the NHS Trust.

Wish I'd sold containers

658000 for 3x shipping containers with freezer equipment, been seen off there.

Mary Jamerson

Perhaps presently, those at the top of the council pay list will tighten their belts for a change, instead of expecting all of us to bail out their wasteful ways of going on.
 
Many say that they are corrupt, but I expect some are nice people, just not very good with handling money.
Bert says it is the easiest thing in the world, to spend someone else’s money.
 
I wouldn’t know what to think.

Joe Bloggs

Well they could save a load of money by stopping that stupid scheme at St. Marys.

ron

Perhaps we can save money by not having to spend approx 17% of our council tax on council employees pensions. Get in the real world and start looking at making real cuts.

True caulk head

Who on earth did you hire the containers from, the Kray twins. I would like to question the council on this matter and ask them to justify this cost. Temporary fencing cost maybe £1000 max If the army didn’t fit everything for free then labour costs to set it up must have been astronomical. Sounds to me like Nick Leeson is running the finance department at county hall. Enjoy your retirement on the back handers you all have received during this crisis while the people you’re supposed to represent have feared for the lives of loved ones and have lost… Read more »

Opinions Matter

Oh no! Here comes a bloody huge hike in our council tax bills next year! Or perhaps look at savings in other ways at the top of the tree in Newport!

John

Why does the entrance of the council look like a backstreet SOHO brothel?

Ben doverman

Yeah

Allchie

Reflection of a bankrupt council.

A. Beaverhausen

Because people like you would whine if they spent money on improving the look of county hall. There are more important things to spend funds on and it’s not the best use of money at present surely? yeah it could do with modernising but that isn’t cheap to do.

BillPayer

Well I’ve lived on this island for years before this ‘pandemic’ and the IWC have NEVER managed to handle money properly. They forever have some excuse to struggle so to get an extra £9million this year and still not balance the books just shows how inept they are there.

richard

I would have thought they would have a surplus with the floating bridge (floating mistake) being out of action and not needing excessive maintenance. Perhaps they should take a pay cut in county hall, my money isn’t going up.

Mark

Take a pay cut then councillors or maybe start by using some of the cash you were given earlier by the government, just divert some, don’t make us pay. You haven’t really got a shortfall at all. So stop lying to us.
 
https://www.islandecho.co.uk/government-confirms-an-extra-8-2million-in-funding-for-the-isle-of-wight/

Terry

As the norm seems to be to employ consultants at astronomical fees to sort all the problems, then all those that downloaded the App., could charge the govt 200.00 each consultants fees, then donate it to the council. Problem sorted, and change for another Jolly.

stephen bushell

£10,000,000 the council shouldn’t have any problem finding that amount ,after all they didn’t have any concerns about throwing a similar amount on the st marys roundabout fiasco that wasn’t wanted or needed .

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