Council to reveal plans to tackle ‘huge’ £10million black hole caused by coronavirus

PUBLISHED: 07:01 04 July 2020 | UPDATED: 07:24 04 July 2020

Ipswich Borough Council's Grafton House offices. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Ipswich Borough Council's Grafton House offices. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN


Ipswich Borough Council is to unveil a blueprint for how it will tackle a “huge financial black hole” in its budget caused by the Covid-19 crisis.

David Ellesmere, leader of Ipswich Borough Council. Picture: IPSWICH BOROUGH COUNCILDavid Ellesmere, leader of Ipswich Borough Council. Picture: IPSWICH BOROUGH COUNCIL

The coronavirus crisis has battered local authorities as they face the double whammy of extra costs for relief efforts, coupled with a big dip in income.

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Councils have received some money from government to deal with the effects of the pandemic.

But many have pleaded for more cash, as the increased expenditure has vastly outweighed the extra costs and lost income.

David Ellesmere, leader of the Labour-controlled council, said: “We currently estimate that the deficit will be about £10million for this financial year.”

However, he said that: “On Monday (July 6) we will publish our plans to address the huge financial black hole in the council’s budget caused by increased expenditure tackling the effects of Coronavirus and reduced income.”

Mr Ellesmere revealed there would be “some challenging proposals within our plans” - but added: “I am working hard with other council leaders to lobby government to provide more funding.”

So far, Ipswich council has received four payments from central government to help cope with the coronavirus crisis.

Two of those, which total just over £1.4million, have been made directly to the council to deal with the pandemic – with the authority having discretion over how it uses the money.

The other two are funds that must be passed to others, to help them cope with the effects of the virus.

For example, it has been given £26.5million to pay to business as grants.

It has also been given £1.5m for Ipswich’s Hardship Fund, to help those receiving support paying their council tax.

MORE: Hardship bites as 2,300 benefit claims made to Ipswich council during coronavirus crisis

In addition to those four sums, the council has had an allowance of £5,250 to cover costs for accommodation of those sleeping rough during the crisis.

MORE: Ipswich braced for dramatic rise in homelessness this winter from aftershock of coronavirus

The council has been allocated £120,858 from the government’s Reopening High Streets Safety Fund, although it has not yet received the cash.

On July 2, the government also announced an additional package of support for councils, although Mr Ellesmere said: “We await the details of how this will affect Ipswich borough.”

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