Date issued: 1 May 2020
Colchester Borough Council is to receive a further £1.94 million from the Government, to help it deal with the immediate impacts of coronavirus.
The announcement, which has been welcomed by the authority, comes amid grave concerns about the pressures on the council’s finances, with estimated losses in the region of £10 million in 2020/21.
The cost of dealing with coronavirus has added considerably to the council’s burden since emergency measures were announced on 23 March. Despite an initial handout last month, when the government released £1.6 billion to support councils through the pandemic, Colchester’s share was only £76k.
The Government’s latest funding pledge to the council follows calls to help it mitigate the pressing financial challenges created by the pandemic, which have impacted frontline services, closed major venues and attractions such as Leisure World and Colchester Castle, and significantly reduced income from other sources.
Cllr Mark Cory, Leader of Colchester Borough Council, said: “I am extremely proud of the way the council has continued to provide vital support to our most vulnerable residents throughout this unprecedented emergency. Like all councils operating at the frontline of this crisis, we are facing considerable cost and demand pressures at the same time as seeing a significant drop in our income – which is why we very much welcome this additional funding.
There is, however, only so much that we can do to maintain this essential work without ongoing Government support. Additional funding is – and will continue to be – crucial if we are to navigate a safe and sustainable path through this crisis and into the recovery phase and beyond.”
Cllr David King, Portfolio Holder for Business and Resources, added: “Extra Government cash is hugely welcome, but it is just 20 percent of the likely loss of income and cost pressures we face this year.
“We will do all we can to help protect key services for our residents, but we face a deep economic as well as health emergency. If we are to avoid unwelcome service changes and are to safeguard the jobs of our staff in the coming months, we must secure more support from the Chancellor this year and next, if not longer.
“The funding shortfall is huge. Unless we can secure substantial further government support, I fear the council will be forced to deplete its reserves to a worrying degree and have to make reductions to the very services that helped see us through this crisis.”