Coun Peter Coupland.

High price of coronavirus

The cost of the coronavirus pandemic to South Holland District Council is likely to be ‘considerable’.

Members of the council’s cabinet were told that the financial implications were being closely monitored.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a considerable impact on the council, our businesses and our residents. It is difficult to quantify the financial effects of the pandemic with any certainty,” says a report to members.

Among the additional costs the council faces are £279,000 from closing leisure centres and implementing safer opening measures; £50,000 to provide a safe operating environment for waste collection services and £10,000 for protective equipment.

There was also a loss of £279,000 from car parking charges along with a £69,000 loss from offering a free market period and fee revision.

The report also said there was a £28,000 reduction in forecast income from industrial units as the result of a pause on lease renewals.

Coun Peter Coupland told members of the cabinet that there was likely to be a £1.6m overspend from the general fund with £1.15m being recouped from government grants.

“A pessimistic view could see a £1m loss at the end of the year that could come from reserves. Our gradual build-up of reserves will see us right,” added Coun Coupland.

He said that the extra costs included providing accommodation for the homeless.

The government had come up with an additional £1.15m and there is likely to be further support, but it might be the case that not all the areas of additional expenditure are covered.

There were also savings on staff and member travelling costs as a result of remote meetings which had clawed-back around £13,000.

The lockdown also resulted in a saving on staff travel of a further £9,000 alongside a £3,000 reduction in phones and £2,000 for cleaning.

There was also a cost of £19,000 for coronavirus safety measures and cleaning to communal areas.

The pandemic also saw a £59,000 reduction in income from council investments as market rates reduced. Members of the cabinet were also told that bus income had reduced by £5,000 and a leaflet drop about coronavirus awareness cost £21,000.

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