Lincolnshire coronavirus: Councils losing millions in income

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Councils are expecting to lose out on millions of pounds due to reduced income caused by the coronavirus lockdown.

Authority leaders are calling on government to give further help in response to the losses in revenue from services including car parking, leisure, planning and licensing.

In the county’s capital, council bosses are predicting a £4.4 million loss to income if the lockdown continued into June.

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Jaclyn Gibson, Chief Finance Officer at City of Lincoln Council, said: “It is clear that COVID-19 is taking its toll on our financial resilience as income streams are reducing, debt recovery is being deferred and there is a growing necessity to incur costs to ensure services are being provided throughout this difficult period.”

She added additional costs included increased support for homeless, IT infrastructure costs and other requests for businesses and third sector support.

She welcomed £67,000 extra funding from government, however, warned of an uncertain future financially if future grants were not proportionate to the costs incurred so far – including pressure caused by a reduction in business rates.

East Lindsey District Council bosses said their revenue steams have “reduced to almost zero” and were anticipating a £1.5 million (potentially £2 million) loss per month for the duration of the crisis.

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The authority has taken a massive hit due to the closure of its tourism economy – turning away holiday-makers from its coastal resorts and its historic rural towns.

Leaders have written to MPs imploring them for more money. Out of a recent £1.6 billion pot announced by government, the authority will only receive £108,000.

Authority leader Councillor Craig Leyland said: “The coronavirus pandemic is having an impact on local authorities across the country.

“We rely on income-generating activities to help fund our services and if they are unable to take place, as many currently aren’t, then clearly we’re going to feel the effect of that on our finances. 

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“We have always been a financially prudent council and we are implementing a number mitigating measures to try and limit the impact.

“However, we also need help from government.”

West Lindsey District Council estimates it will suffer £941,000 of income losses in addition to £250,000 of additional expenditure adding the figures could be greater if the lockdown continues.

A spokesman said the authority’s priority remained supporting our customers and communities during the pandemic while maintaining essential service. 

They said they were working with other councils and government to lobby for help with the financial pressures the COVID-19 crisis had caused.

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Lincolnshire County Council said it was “difficult to estimate the long-term impact” on council finances and did not provide figures on how much it had lost.

However, leader, Coun Martin Hill said a £21.5 million fund already provided would help to meet additional costs, and that government had promised a further share of the additional £1.6 billion it was making available to authorities.

He said: “These are challenging times for local councils, who are playing a major role in supporting our communities and our most vulnerable residents during the crisis.

“We welcome this extra money, most of which will be targeted towards social care.”

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Outside of Lincolnshire, a North East Lincolnshire spokesman also confirmed a drop in income but said it could only estimate loss of income based on previous years’ figures and provided no numbers.

They added their support to lobbies for the government to supply more cash.

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