COVID-19 council costs reach £12 million

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Responding to COVID-19 is expected to cost Argyll and Bute Council more than £12 million.

A report to the local authority’s Business Continuity Committee (BCC) on Thursday August 13 showed costs are primarily a mixture of increased expenditure and loss of income.

The council has delivered new or expanded services, for example, to provide child care for essential workers, additional homeless accommodation and free school meals, and support in getting food to people in need. Steps to recover from the impact of COVID-19, such as work to make council buildings safe for use, have brought additional costs.

At the same time income has fallen, for example through reduced use of transport services – ferries, piers, harbours and parking – and reduced planning fee income.
Taking into account Scottish Government support for its COVID-19 response the council faces an estimated shortfall of £5.9 million.

The committee also considered reports setting out the council’s budget outlook for 2021/22, with estimates showing the council will have to deliver £6.7 million of savings, even before costs of COVID-19 are considered.

Councillor Gary Mulvaney, policy lead for strategic finance, said: ‘Changing how we work, to make sure we’ve been there for people who need us, has had a significant impact on already stretched council resources.

‘We have work to do, with partners, to build the local economy and increase job opportunities. If there is a second wave of COVID-19 and lockdown restrictions return, we will be there again to help those in need and there’s work to do to help us all live and work safely with the presence of COVID-19 in schools to businesses and our outdoors.’