THE Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM) Council had overspent its budget of the last financial year by millions, according to a new report.

Councillor David Hilton (Conservative: Ascot and Sunninghill), lead member for finance, read out a report which revealed the council’s 2019-20 financial outturn at a virtual cabinet meeting on May 28.

He said RBWM had overspent its budget by £4.2 million – £1.8 million of that was due to Covid-19 related pressures incurred in March 2020.

£2.7 million was received from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to cover the financial dent caused by the coronavirus – leaving a £2.397 million overspend.

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A second tranche of funding of £4.1 million from the government was also received but was earmarked into reserves.

Budget papers presented at full council in February estimated RBWM would have around £6.5 million in reserves – but councillor Hilton announced the reserves now stand at £8.231 million, an increase of over £1.7 million.

Children’s services were reported to have nearly £2 million overspend – some £325,000 higher in January.

Savings of £11,000 were made in adult social care where it was projected to have an overspent of over £1 million.

However, coronavirus-related pressures have added £157,000 – totalling a £146,000 overspent.

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The lead member for adult social care and children’s services, councillor Stuart Carroll (Conservative: Boyn Hill) said the council has made 50 per cent in targeted savings in children’s services and has reduced the number of agency staff by hiring more permanent social workers.

In terms of revenue, parking, the council’s biggest income generator, saw a £900,000 drop even before the pandemic was in full force – with a further £422,000 reduction because of the virus.

RBWM’s highways team declared £617,000 overspend with a further £140,000 due to the coronavirus – but these costs were offset by savings on waste collection and disposal of nearly £600,000.

The closure of leisure centres across the borough from March 2020 saw a significant loss of income of £613,000.

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Councillor Andrew Johnson (Conservative: Hurley and Walthams), leader of the council, said: “Covid-19 is having a major impact on our financial position going forward.

“I think we’re certainly not alone in facing that challenge. Indeed, there are other local authorities in a worst position than we are principally due to their strong reliance upon other forms of commercial income.

“Had it not been to Covid, we were certainly on the right track at the start of this year.

“Indeed, we had a tough but deliverable budget outside the scope of this paper because this is the financial year close at the end of March.

“We have seen some significant work coming out of the organisation around service reform and transformation that has unlocked a lot of genuine savings.”

He added RBWM is still lobbying government.