Impact of Covid has left Ipswich Borough Council with £6m gap

David Ellesmere warned that the council's reserves have almost all gone. Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Ipswich Borough Council leader David Ellesmere - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Last week we published Ipswich Borough Council’s budget for the coming year. The dominating factor in the Council’s finances is, of course, the effect of coronavirus. Like all councils this has involved us in extra spending to support people through the pandemic.

Since March we have delivered over 1,000 food parcels and taken over 2,000 calls from people seeking our support via the Home, But Not Alone service. We have paid out more than £31m of business grants to support over 2,000 local businesses.

Keeping vital services going like collecting bins, the HEARS community alarm service and our fabulous parks has involved greater spending to make them “Covid-secure”.

On top of this we have seen a huge drop in income from the Regent and Corn Exchange, our car parks, sports centres and swimming pools.

We are now predicting Covid will cost the Borough Council a net £16 million.

At the start of the pandemic councils were told by the Government that they should do the right thing, spend what was necessary and they would be fully compensated.

Across the country, councils stood up and did what was asked of them. Sadly, the promise to fully compensate them has not been honoured.

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We have received just under £10 million from the Government leaving a gap of £6 million.

We saw this threat coming and took the tough but necessary decisions to plug the gap early with two emergency budgets in July and November. As a result, there is currently no need for any further cuts.

This means that services such as free brown bins, the young persons’ free Summer iCard, the Council’s out-of-hours noise nuisance service, support for bus routes, building new council houses and installing solar PV on council houses are all protected.

We will always try to keep council tax bills as low as possible.

Ipswich Borough Council’s increase in council tax of just 11p a week for most residents forms only a small part of the increase Ipswich people will see in their bills this year. 

In contrast Conservative-run Suffolk County Council are increasing their share of the average Ipswich bill by 80p a week and Suffolk’s Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner by 22p a week.