Coins on top of cash

Council plug budget shortfall

Fareham Borough Council is today (Sept 7) drawing up an emergency mid-year budget to manage the predicted £1.14m shortfall caused by Coronavirus.

The plans are expected to be discussed in a meeting happening later today.

Because of the pandemic, the council’s previous break-even budget of £9.6m has been left with a shortfall of just over £3.6m.

The gap has been lessened by help from government grants, which has covered just under two thirds of the shortfall.

The council is expected to use its reserves to cover most of the shortfall, but also by implementing measures such as charging for parking on coastal car parks, in order to cover shortfalls for future years as well as 2020.

The council already expected to have a funding gap over four years of approximately £1.5m but Coronavirus has expanded that gap significantly.

The council has dismissed the idea of raising council tax by 14%, which would have covered the funding gap.

Executive Leader of Fareham Borough Council, Cllr Seán Woodward, said:

“Most residents are surprised that Fareham Borough Council delivers all of our services for a cost of just £3 per week for the average home, almost the lowest in the country.

“However, Covid-19 has had a significant impact on every aspect of life and society in our Borough and it is well reported how this has led to an immense impact on the UK economy.

“It is fortunate that as a Council we have been so prudent with our reserves for a number of years so have a strong financial standing, but this is still going to have a very significant impact on what we can and cannot do as a Council for the rest of the year and for many years to come.

“We must take action now and that is why we have got an emergency mid-year budget coming before us and why we are having to look at alternative ways of bridging the funding gap for the future.”

PSE Oct/Nov 20

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