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WC in catastrophic financial position

May 11, 2020 8:47 PM

The economic impact of Covid-19 means the council's liabilities exceed its cash assets. Opposition councillors had repeatedly warned the Conservative administration about the dangers of letting reserves fall to what were perilous levels even in 'normal' times, though in fairness it's unlikely that higher levels of reserves could have saved the council.

The only hope is government intervention, though for that there may be a heavy price to pay. See previous article.

A report to Cabinet on 19 May has been published today (11 May) and provides an update on the impact of COVID-19 in Wiltshire.

WC's twin CEOs say: It is now estimated that the impact of COVID-19, taking into account the £28.8m already received from Government, will still leave a budget shortfall of between £18.8m and £51.5m, depending on how long the COVID restrictions remain (the current figures are based on modelling of three and six months), and the demands this places on the council. Both figures are based on if there were no further funding provided by government. The Council's General Fund reserves stand at £15.1m.

The 'three month' figure fails to recognise the reality of the pandemic, and even the larger figure probably underestimates the real timescale and cost.

WC staff have been warned that the economic tsunami which is yet to come, and which will hit the wider economy as well, will mean a drastic reduction in the size of the council.