January 13, 2021 10.58 am This story is over 40 months old

Councils mull COVID impact as taxes rise and cuts continue

Extra government cash, but not enough

The impact of COVID-19 put a £1.5 million black hole in South Holland District Council’s budget for this year, but neighbouring South Kesteven leaders say they have financial protection.

Councillors in South Holland and South Kesteven have been examining plans for their 2021/22 budgets which include proposed council tax rises of £4.95  and £5 respectively.

South Holland District Council faces a £1.52m budget shortage, which it wants to halve by scrapping a 2% staff pay rise, and compensate with some extra homeless and support grants from the government – reducing the gap to £761,000.

Cllr Peter Coupland, South Holland’s deputy leader and portfolio holder for finance, told his colleagues: “Finances are being seriously impacted by COVID.”

Thus, budget figures are subject to changes before a further draft is presented to cabinet on February 16. The new financial year starts in April.

Leader of South Holland District Council, Lord Gary Porter said: “Let’s hope [the figures] are different in a positive way, rather than a negative way, but different nonetheless they will be.”

South Holland’s Special Cabinet meeting on Jan 12.

Meanwhile, South Kesteven District Council approved its budget for 2021/22, including a £5 increase to council tax for band D properties. However, it will have to come back following consultation and will go before Full Council in March.

Part of their budget includes a government grant of £362,000 “which will provide some financial level of protection against unforeseen COVID costs,” said Cllr Adam Stokes.

Similar to South Holland, he added: “The overall visuals [numbers] are not immune from variation, and fluctuation.”

Leader of South Kesteven District Council, Kelham Cooke said: “I think none of us can doubt, there’s a challenging 12 months ahead of us. Even with a COVID recovery.”