Council sets out financial challenges amid COVID-19 crisis

Mansfield District Council is facing a £3.2m gap in its finances as it continues supporting residents, communities and businesses through the COVID-19 crisis.

When the council agreed its 2020/21 budget in January, savings of £892,000 had already been made in order to deliver a balanced budget at a time of increased demand on services and historical low levels of funding from central government.

Just a few months later and as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the council is forecasting a gap of £3.2m due to loss of income, increased expenditure and delays in progressing with its transformation programme, which would deliver savings.

While some non-critical services have been reduced as a result of the council focusing on vital services that support the most vulnerable residents, no services have been cut as a direct result of this funding gap.

The financial impact of COVID-19 on the council’s budget has been significant. It includes:

  • Additional unexpected expenditure of £1.2m, including housing rough sleepers and providing employees with extra PPE. Included in the £1.2m are savings of £800k that cannot be achieved as planned through the council’s transformation projects, because employees have been redeployed to support communities.
  • £3.1m lost income from the suspension of car parking charges, closure of Mansfield Palace Theatre, Mansfield Museum and leisure centres, and lower than anticipated income from rents, business rates, council tax and trade waste.

Cllr Craig Whitby, Portfolio Holder for Finance, said: “All council services are being reviewed with a view to reducing non-essential expenditure, this includes revenue and capital expenditure where there is no contractual commitment.

“The Government has provided £1.15m in additional funding to the council but this is not sufficient and our projected shortfall already takes this into account.

“While we remain committed to supporting our most vulnerable residents through the difficult times ahead, our non-essential services will return only when it is safe to do so and in a way that is appropriate. This situation is likely to bring with it a new normality, which means services will not return to exactly how they were before COVID-19. 

“If the Government doesn’t provide further compensation then the council will be forced to consider making service reductions in the coming months."

For the latest information about coronavirus, the council's services and support available for residents and businesses visit the coronavirus webpages.

Published: May 29th 2020