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Council 'could have ended year with £2.8million underspend without COVID-19 losses'

Council could have ended year with £2.8million underspend without COVID-19 losses

The leader of the council Andrew Johnson has said that the Royal Borough could have ended the year with an underspend of £2.8million if it weren’t for the COVID-19 crisis.

Introducing the financial update during a virtual cabinet meeting on Thursday evening, Cllr Johnson said: “On examination of the figures it is clear that without COVID-19 we would potentially be in a far better financial position than we thought in February.”

Speaking to the Advertiser after the meeting, Cllr Johnson admitted the COVID-19 crisis has ‘blown a significant hole in our finances’ but added the council is in ‘a far better place than we imagined possible’ four to two months ago.

“I’m not going to say that we are on target but we are fairly confident we might get to a position towards the end of the year where we finish with a balanced budget,” he added.

During the meeting Cllr David Hilton, lead member for finance said: “When setting this year’s budget we were very robust in checking all budget lines and savings so to me it is no surprise that the underlying budget is holding up well.”

Since June reserves have increased by £900,000 to £2.7million.

The pandemic has dealt a blow to parking, leisure and commercial property revenue, amounting to a loss of £8.2million.

The borough is anticipating a Government grant to help cope with these losses.

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