How much will COVID-19 cost Hertfordshire County Council?
- Credit: Sarah Allison
New financial estimates are predicting the coronavirus pandemic will cost Herts County Council more than £70 million by the end of the financial year.
As a result, the council is now preparing for an overspend in excess of £17 million as a result of COVID-19.
At the meeting, councillors were told there were hopes it could reduce to around £12 million, should the council receive £6 million from the government towards loss of income.
The council’s forecasts include the millions in additional expenditure already incurred to deliver essential services – as well as dedicated response projects – during the pandemic.
They also include forecasts of additional pandemic-related expenditure, loss of income and unachieved specific savings, that had been planned for this year.
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They do also take account of underspends, including the furlough of music service employees, postage, business mileage and printing costs.
Central government has already allocated £54.5 million to the county council towards the costs of COVID-19, with some further funding expected to address loss of income.
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And that – according to a report presented to a meeting of the county council resources and performance cabinet panel last Thursday – points to an expected shortfall of around £17 million.
However, the report states that forecast is still “extremely volatile with numerous uncertainties” and could “fluctuate by millions of pounds in a positive or negative direction”.
Overall the department expected to have incurred the greatest costs by the end of the financial year is adult care services, where the total additional pressure is said to be £37.2 million.
Most of this relates to the continued support for commissioned care providers, who can claim back the additional costs associated with COVID-19.
The council’s figures do not include a forecast cost of £18.8 million to support hospital discharges, which is expected to be fully funded by the CCG.
Nor do they include the expected fall in revenue from council tax and business rates – although this is expected to impact on the county council in 2021/22.
If no further funding is made available, the financial losses forecast this year will be met from the council’s contingency budget and from reserves.