The chief executive of a north-east local authority will write to the Scottish Government calling for additional financial support to help plug a £60 million shortfall.
Councillors discussed Aberdeenshire Council’s financial position during the coronavirus pandemic at a full council meeting yesterday.
The local authority has calculated a budget deficit of £22 million, with a further £30m of costs associated with Covid 19.
And it’s feared that the shortfall will rise to £60m by the end of 2022.
Yesterday councillors agreed to instruct the chief executive of the council to write to the Scottish Government and request further financial help due to the loss of income and increased costs incurred.
East Garioch Councillors Martin Ford raised concerns about the scope for making savings in an already stretched budget, which may have complications on providing the range of duties the council is legally obliged to do.
His amendment, which was approved at the meeting, stated: “Based on the loss of income and increased costs (compared with the budget) due to the Covid-19 epidemic, as set out in the report, Aberdeenshire Council instructs the chief executive to write to the cabinet secretary for finance to seek additional government funding support for the council.”
He said: “We need to write to the government to seek further financial support and I would be optimistic that actually there will be further financial support but based on the old saying if you don’t ask you don’t get, I think we do need a formal request.”
In discussing Aberdeenshire Council’s financial position, officers also said that significant work had also been carried out relating to rent arrears, with payment plans set up for tenants.
There was a £1.048m loss in business and council tax payments this year and further analysis on income trends is being undertaken.
The first quarter budget saw a £7.1m overspend.
Alan Wood, head of finance at Aberdeenshire Council, said: “We are used to seeing figures of around 97/98% collection of council tax and 99% collection in business rates.
“Both of those numbers are slightly down hence the million-pound loss reported but I would say that the Aberdeenshire community in large are contributing as responsible citizens and businesses by paying their council tax and business rates and we are continually grateful for that. We’re not seeing the drop off in those income streams that other places are.”
Aberdeenshire Council leader Councillor Jim Gifford added: “I think we are used to seeing these very stark reminders of what our response to cover Covid-19 has cost the council in financial terms, the figures absolutely speak for themselves and also shows of course that despite everything that has happened the vast majority of our council services have continued in some form or another and the services that were closed down are now starting up again in some form or another.”