By Daniel Wood
Kirklees Council could run out of money by the end of the current financial year unless it gets more support from central Government.
Due to the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, one senior figure has suggested that it has led to the authority dipping into its reserves.
The reserves are said to be getting perilously low.
Cllr Graham Turner, the council’s Cabinet Member for Corporate made the following statement to a virtual meeting of the Corporate Scrutiny Panel:
“The main priority this coming year is how we sort the council’s finances out. Clearly, there’s been a huge drain on those.
“So far we haven’t received the total amount of money that we are likely to have spent before the end of the year so we will be pressuring the Government for some more money to help us out.”
He added that under current plans Kirklees Council would probably run out of money by the end of the year.
Finance chiefs have forecasted the financial impact of the coronavirus on Kirklees to be anywhere from £34m to £65m. While there has been £3.2bn allocated nationally to date to the local government sector, Kirklees Council only got a share of £24.3m.
The challenge presented by Covid-19 means the authority faces a struggle in 2021/22. This is due to ramped-up costs and slashed revenue streams.
The level of local unemployment, the state of the local economy, Council Tax revenue and the level of defaulted payments are all considered to be impossible to estimate or assess.
Cllr Turner added: “One of the problems we’ve got is that there is still a lot of unknowns.
“Next year is going to be the real problem. I think we’ll get through this year, but the next financial year will be a real challenge because some of the things that are developing now will have got worse by then.
“Unemployment will have peaked by next year. All those impacts will be coming through so next year’s budget will be a real challenge for us.”
An increase in claims for Council Tax reductions could occur due to the end of the furlough scheme and resultant redundancies.
The consequential impact on the Band D Council Tax base could be more than £4m.
The total Tax income loss is forecast at around £11.1m.
Closures of car parks and leisure centres means the figure of £52m from fees, charges and sales is not achievable.