Coronavirus is set to cost Barnet Council around £26 million, according to the latest financial reports. At a meeting of the Financial Performance and Contracts Committee last night (FPC, 15 June), councillors were told that the gross cost of coronavirus to the council was estimated to be £52.4 million, of which the Government was only providing funding for half, £26.2 million, leaving a £26.2 shortfall. Last year Barnet spent £10 million from reserves to cover costs, leaving just £40 million in unearmarked reserves.
Barnet Labour FPC Spokesperson, Cllr Kathy Levine said:
“I asked the Chair of the Committee whether he had believed the Government’s statement that Councils should spend all the money they need to during Coronavirus, and that they would pay them back. He replied that he wasn’t that naive, and that current spending was not sustainable. Clearly the Barnet Tories do not think the Government will make good on their promise to cover all the costs which is very worrying for the Council’s finances. It looks like we have a black hole in the budget.”
Labour Group Leader, Cllr Barry Rawlings added:
“We are likely to see further rises in charges to residents, further cuts to services, less money for frontline services and worse terms and conditions for staff. It doesn’t need to be this way. I call on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to fully fund the cost of coronavirus to communities and fund our council properly.”
- A copy of the FPC agenda and reports can be found here: https://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=693&MId=10106