THE coronavirus further depletes the council’s reserves, the latest finance update reveals.

An update on the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM) Council’s financial position was reported to cabinet members on July 27 (Thursday) by councillor David Hilton (Conservative: Ascot and Sunninghill), lead member for finance.

At the end of March 2020, it was reported the council had £8.2 million in general reserves where, at the end of the year, £1.85 million could be left in the pot – which is £4.5 million below the minimum level.

Cllr Hilton said a forecasted £4.1 million may have to taken out of the reserves to relieve financial pressures caused by Covid-19.

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He added the government will refund local authorities up to 75 per cent of the 95 per cent loss of income.

Adult social care has forecasted an overspend of over one million pounds and children’s services with around £1.2 million overspend.

Car parking revenue has also been impacted with a lost of income from tickets to be anticipated at £3 million and a further £35,000 when cabinet members unanimously agreed for residents with advantage cards to park for free for three hours to kickstart the local economy as lockdown eased.

It was reported coronavirus will have a ‘profound’ impact on the borough’s leisure centres as RBWM’s Place Directorate predicts the centres will get no income this year and won’t return to pre-coronavirus levels of income until beyond 2022/23.

Over the next three years, it is forecasted leisure provisions will see nearly £5.2 million in pressures with £2.8 million expected this year.

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In the financial report, it states the impacts of coronavirus, so far, has cost the council over £13.2 million.

Cllr Hilton said if it wasn’t for the coronavirus, the council would’ve been ‘well on track’ to delivering a balanced budget for this year with savings of £4.4 million to deliver a balanced budget for next year too.

The leader of RBWM, councillor Andrew Johnson (Conservative: Hurley and Walthams), said: “Had it not been for Covid-19, our budget strategy from earlier on this year would have paid significant dividends.

“To confirm and allay any fears that we are not still in active in active discussions with government – indeed we are.

“We continue to lobby central government hard for adequate resources not only to deal with the crisis at hand – but also assist us in returning to long-term financial stability.”

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RBWM has received three tranches from government totalling to £8.1 million to relieve coronavirus-related costs as well as some of the costs at the end of last year.

Any future grants or funds the government hands out will directly go into RBWM’s reserves, Cllr Hilton told members.

The newly formed capital programme review board had its first meeting to look over RBWM’s capital projects where they identified a total of £2.4 million worth of savings

Cllr Hilton said these financial reports will be ‘bimonthly’ starting from July following recommendations from the council’s director of resources, Adele Taylor, that four reports a year was ‘too few’.