Government Covid funding gave BCP Council £5m budget surplus
TENS of millions of pounds in government Covid funding left BCP Council with a £5m budget surplus at the end of the last financial year.
More than £75m in grants were awarded to the council over the course of 2020/21 which helped it manage difficulties, including the loss of £10m in car parking income, writes Josh Wright of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
A cabinet report said this showed the government “honoured its commitment to provide the council with all the resources it needs” made at the start of the pandemic.
The annual financial outturn report shows the first lockdown led to “significant” overspends in some areas, particularly due to the drop in car parking income.
Spending within its children’s services department was also above its budget – by £6.4m – due to rising costs in special school places and increasing need for them.
“The care packages pressure is from both significantly increased cost of some placements due to greater needs and complexity but also a continued increase in numbers of children being placed into care,” the report said.
Despite these issues, the council ended the year with a surplus of £5.1m which has been added to its reserves.
This was due to several rounds of government grant funding which totalled more than £75m over the course of the year.
Included in this was £29m through the Covid pressures grant, £34m in ring-fenced funds for specific services and £14m to replace lost income.
“Overall, this support was sufficient to fund the council’s additional costs and lost income from the pandemic during 2020/21 with some grants able to be carried forward to manage the outbreak as lockdown measures eased in the new financial year,” the report adds.
“This demonstrates that the government honoured its commitment to provide the council with all the resources it needed to cope with the pandemic.”
Because a funding surplus was predicted at the end of last year, £13m had already been added to the council’s reserves but costs during the course of the first lockdown were lower than expected, leaving the council with an overall £5.1m surplus.
The report, which will be considered by the cabinet later this month, recommends this is also added into the reserves.