A SPENDING ban on the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council (RBWM) is a ‘real threat’ as the coronavirus pandemic puts a £14 million dent in the finances.

Councillor David Hilton (Conservative: Ascot and Sunninghill), cabinet member for finance, believes a section 114, which bans the authority from any new expenditure other than mandatory services for protecting vulnerable people, will not be issued within the coming weeks, but could be potential at the end of the financial year.

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This comes after the authority’s chief Duncan Sharkey revealed the leader of the council, councillor Andrew Johnson, has written to the government last week signalling its possibility of bankruptcy because of the Covid-19 outbreak impact on its revenue which is £14 million.

Councillor Hilton said: “At that time, Duncan was unaware of the additional £1.6 billion the government announced that will be handed out to local authorities.

“We are not at that point of issuing a section 114 yet, but If it ever came to that point the ministry of local government would be aware of it even beforehand and it’s incumbent for this administration to do anything it can to resolve its financial position which we are doing that anyway.”

He added: “The longer the lockdown stays, the bigger the problem comes. I think the council’s financial position is almost as much within the control of government in terms of when it relieves the lockdown and when businesses can start earning some money again.”

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Councillor Hilton also said the council’s balanced budget has now been ‘blown out of the water’, but there’s ‘many opportunities’ to get RBWM out of jail such as increasing the adult social care precept, remove the cap on council tax and securing further grants from government.

Opposition councillors have argued that they haven’t been informed or kept up to date about the council’s financial situation and the increase likelihood of a s114 notice being issued.

The Independents and Liberal Democrats are calling for more transparency from the ruling Tories over the financial situation and more scrutiny.

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A low-level of £6 million is in the council’s reserves where they have seen less revenue coming in some areas like car parking since the lockdown was announced.

RBWM received nearly £3 million from the government to fund essential services during the Covid-19 outbreak and is anticipated to receive the same amount soon after Robert Jenrick, local government minister, announced on Saturday £1.6 billion will be given to local authorities across England.