Coronavirus: Suffolk County Council faces £23m Covid shortfall

Suffolk County Council
Image caption Suffolk County Council said it was not yet looking to develop an emergency budget to cover the shortfall

A council could face a potential shortfall of £23m because of additional spending as a result of coronavirus.

Figures from Suffolk County Council indicate costs and lost income could add up to £57.8m, despite receiving £34.7m in government support.

Gordon Jones, cabinet member for finances, said the figures were "estimates" that "continue to change".

He said the council was "looking at ways of bridging any gap between funding and expenditure".

The Tory-run council's overall budget for 2020-21, set prior to the coronavirus outbreak, was £556.4m, but the authority said it was not looking to develop an emergency budget at this stage.

Among the biggest challenges faced by the council were demands for social care, the impact on highways and infrastructure projects and pressures on the safe return of children to school, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

"There remains significant uncertainty over the scale, nature and duration of these related financial pressures," Mr Jones said.

"The position regarding additional costs and lost income resulting from Covid-19 are estimates."

While the council has unallocated reserves of almost £50m, a little more than £40m of that was there to cover potential risks prior to the pandemic.

It means that just £9m in the reserves are there to help support its response to the outbreak.

Mr Jones added: "It is hoped that the course and impact of the pandemic becomes sufficiently clear in the weeks and months ahead for the council to develop meaningful financial scenarios upon which we can inform plans for the short term and longer term."

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