Councils to unveil plans to tackle coronavirus shortfalls


Jun 18, 2020

Council officials are expected to reveal recovery plans to tackle a £57 million shortfall facing North Yorkshire amid the coronacvirus pandemic.

Both Harrogate Borough Council and North Yorkshire County Council have been hit financially by the outbreak and racked up large deficits from tackling the virus.

The borough council faces an estimated shortfall of around £15 million due to loss of income from car parking and leisure during the lockdown.

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It had initially estimated a deficit of £10 million in April, but chief executive Wallace Sampson revealed the figure had increased just two weeks later.

In a report before cabinet last night, the council said it had received £1.65 million from government to support cash flow and had already put a freeze on non-essential spending and recruitment to tackle the deficit.

A financial recovery plan will be brought before senior councillors in July, which will outline how the council will address the shortfall further.

It comes as councils across the country have warned of job losses and cuts to services which will need to be made due to the cost of the pandemic.

In neighbouring Leeds, the city council has said it may need to cut 415 jobs and introduce an emergency budget in August as it faces an overspend of £200 million.

Richard Flinton, chief executive of North Yorkshire County Council, told senior county councillors that the authority faces a £42 million deficit.

Meanwhile, North Yorkshire County Council is expected to face a deficit of £42 million by the end of the year due to fighting the outbreak.

Richard Flinton, chief executive of the county council, told senior councillors earlier this month that the authority will have to take measures to address its finances.

Mr Flinton said, while the county council had been given £26 million in government support and will recover around £7.7 million in clinical commissioning group costs, it will still have to do more to tackle the deficit. He said:

“We are hopeful that the government will recognise the need for further funding.

“We will need to take measures ourselves to protect our financial position and we are calling on the government to help on some of those future income streams, particularly around council tax.”

Carl Les, leader of North Yorkshire County Council and finance spokesperson for the County Council Network, said he had told Chancellor Rishi Sunak about the financial state of local government and called for the same support as has been given to businesses.

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