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Council gives budget update

by Gemma Melling

At tonight’s Cabinet Meeting (Wednesday 16 June, 2021), members received an update on Knowsley Council’s current budget position, which was significantly impacted by COVID in 2020/2021.

The impact of unplanned costs that the council had to meet (including school meals and Personal Protective Equipment), alongside lost income, was £28m. However, the council did secure Government funding to meet some of the costs associated with COVID and has robustly managed its operational service budgets which has resulted in a budget for 2020/2021 showing a surplus of £0.278m.

These resources will be held to respond to additional COVID response costs which are set to continue into the 2021/2022 financial year.

Cllr Jayne Aston, Cabinet Member for Resources, said: “Our budget position is much better than we originally thought this time last year, as COVID costs were spiralling and it wasn’t at all clear whether Government support would be forthcoming. Funding allocations from the Government were ad-hoc which made budget monitoring and planning extremely challenging.

“Council officers have worked tirelessly throughout this pandemic to ensure our residents and businesses receive the right support at the right time.

“Thanks to our robust financial management, we have clearly demonstrated our financial resilience to cope with the unprecedented events of the last year and effectively plan for the borough’s recovery from the pandemic.”

At the end of 2020/21, the council held a number of earmarked reserves to support the borough’s recovery from the pandemic. These will now be progressed throughout this year to help to support residents, business and the local economy. These include:

  • £6.4m to support businesses and town centres
  • £3m for Public Health interventions
  • £2.1m for climate change and environmental improvements
  • £1.6m to support residents and protect vulnerable residents
  • £1m for sustaining and transforming key services
  • £1.2m for Shakespeare North Playhouse start-up costs.