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Mid Suffolk Council loses £3m due to pandemic

Extra costs and substantial income losses from the coronavirus pandemic has left Mid Suffolk District Council having to bridge a gap of more than £3 million in its budget.

The first public report from the council was published ahead of a meeting of its cabinet this week, in which the first confirmed impact of the pandemic on the authority’s coffers was unveiled.

Government grants totalled £1.3 million, but did not cover the £2.4 million in lost income and £800,000 in additional costs for the same period.

Mid Suffolk District Council offices in Ipswich.
Mid Suffolk District Council offices in Ipswich.

Savings and underspends have helped the local authority, but it leaves an estimated £970,000 needing to be drawn from reserves to cover the shortfall at the end of the year.

Among the additional costs that the council faced was providing emergency hotel accommodation for homeless people during lockdown and other response measures, while income to have been severely hit included council tax, business rates, car parks and leisure centres.

John Whitehead (pictured), cabinet member for finances at Mid Suffolk, said that the figure of £2.4 million was based on a prediction of there being no further lockdown.

He said: “Gradually, the impact on our finances is becoming clearer.

“We anticipate a £2.4 million effect for the full year, and that’s based on income starting to recover with no further lockdown.”

Cllr Whitehead (pictured) said the council had “a strong reserve position” which was considered to be “sufficient to manage the impact on 20/21”.

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