Following a long period where the council’s 1Leisure facilities were closed, under government restrictions, the services are now struggling to recover to pre-pandemic levels of activity.
Councillor Geoff Brodie highlighted at the council’s corporate scrutiny committee last week that leisure facilities and sports development areas are forecast to lose £1,299,000 in the financial year 2021/22. With an already budgeted deficit of £284,000 this could hit the council’s budget to the tune of £1,583,000.
Leisure centres are not the only area where the council are forecasting a loss, primarily due to COVID. Other areas forecast to make a loss include:
- Car parking (£1,126,000)
- Amenities and theatre (£122,000)
- Museums, archaeology and records office (£246,000)
The estimated net loss of income to the council in these 4 areas would be £2,937,000.
Chief executive of the Isle of Wight Council, John Metcalfe, said they knew the loss was going to happen and that was why the COVID contingency fund was introduced, to cover any pressures. The £14.2 million contingency fund was approved in the council’s latest budget to deal with the financial legacy left behind by the pandemic and any other risks that could occur in the next 3 years.
Mr Metcalfe said the purpose of the fund was to bridge the gap in income expenditure to cover some of the areas that had not recovered. As a proactive council, Mr Metcalfe said they were constantly reviewing the recovery position and seeing if there were any alternatives that could be made.
A government scheme was also introduced last year and has continued in the first quarter of this financial year, to replace 75p of every pound of lost income, which will be paid into the council’s accounts. Mr Metcalfe said the estimated compensation would be £400,000 but as the scheme only ran in the first quarter of the year, he was unsure if anymore money would be coming from the government.
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