Cabinet is due to discuss the council’s financial position for 2021/22, including an updated assessment of the impact of COVID-19 and approach to budget setting for 2022/23, when it next meets on the 21 July.
The report addresses the council’s financial position in relation to the pressures and income losses due to COVID-19 and will consider the actions needed to ensure the council remains on a sound financial footing.
Councillor Mike Bird, Leader of Walsall Council said, “The council continues to play an active role in the overall national response to COVID-19 and this has had a significant impact on our financial position.”
“As well as the initial costs of funding the council’s response, the impact of COVID-19 includes loss of income following closure of services and facilities, an impact on the council’s collection fund and delays to the delivery of approved budget savings as the council has refocused its resources on its response to COVID-19.”
“The council has and will continue to actively support local businesses directly affected by forced closures, partial closures or have had their trade affected by imposed COVID-19 restrictions in the form of restart grants.”
Government has to date allocated £67.58m of funding (plus £5.05m of support to Walsall residents and £137.19m for Walsall businesses) to help support COVID-19 pressures in Walsall of which £29.31m now relates to 2021/22.
Of the £137.19m government funding specifically allocated to Walsall to support businesses since the start of the pandemic, £11.17m relates to restart grants announced in April 2021. Restart grants have been put in place to support businesses in England affected by the pandemic where those in the non-essential retail sector are eligible for one-off grants of up to £6,000, while businesses in the hospitality accommodation, leisure, personal-care and gym sectors are eligible for grants of up to £18,000.
Alongside the restart programme for local businesses, Walsall has also been allocated a further £1.42m of top-up funding for the ongoing Additional Restrictions Grant scheme for councils, to allow more businesses to get support. In addition to these grants the retail rate relief scheme has been extended to include 2021/22 and a further £11.94m rate relief has been awarded for the current year.
The report for cabinet summarises that the council is able to manage the financial impact of the pandemic in the short term, however should the crisis continue to have such a significant impact beyond July 2021, then additional actions will need to be taken should the Government not fully recompense councils for their losses. However, Cabinet will continue to expect that Government recompenses the council pound for pound.
A potential revenue overspend of approximately £4.49m is forecast, mainly as a result of demand pressures within Adult social Care. Work is in hand to identify further actions to bring the position in line with budget by year end.
Regular updates will be reported to Cabinet on the financial implications for Walsall Council, including any recommendations for additional actions to be taken to manage the evolving situation.
Notes to editors