Full cost of Coronavirus response becoming clear as reserves needed to plug Mid Sussex District Council’s Covid-19 deficit

PR 2235PS/MJ - 10/02/2021

Mid Sussex District Council is proposing to use General Reserve funds to cover the immediate costs associated with the response to Covid-19.

Cabinet met on Monday 8 February to discuss the Mid Sussex District Council draft Corporate Plan and Budget 2021/22.

The financial cost of supporting local communities through the coronavirus pandemic has been huge and, even with some support from the Government, the cost to Mid Sussex District Council will be £1.9 million during the 2020/21 financial year and is expected to continue to have a significant impact on the Council’s finances over the coming years.

The closure of local leisure centres because of national and regional lockdown measures has been one of the most significant losses of income experienced by Mid Sussex District Council. For 2021/22, the Council has created a specific financial reserve of £500,000 to protect the long-term future of the leisure centres and to cover the costs associated with regularly closing and reopening them.

Cabinet recommended a Council Tax increase of 2.9%, £4.95 for an average Band D property, to balance the budget and protect council services in the short-term. The proposals will now be considered by Full Council on Wednesday 3 March.

Councillor Jonathan Ash-Edwards, Leader of Mid Sussex District Council said:

“The Council has done excellent work in building up our financial reserves over the last 10 years and that diligence means we’re now in a strong financial position to cope with the huge losses of income we have experienced because of the pandemic.

“We hold financial reserves in place to help us cope in times of emergency and it’s right that we use them to aid our recovery from the impacts of Covid-19.

“The coronavirus pandemic is an unprecedented crisis that has transformed the way we live our lives. Mid Sussex District Council has responded quickly to take on new responsibilities and to help support our residents and businesses, but the costs involved are significant. We took the unprecedented step of revising our Corporate Plan and Budget for 2020/21 last September and that document has laid the foundations for our recovery from Covid-19.

“The use of reserves will help significantly but it is not a sustainable long-term solution, so it’s important that we work to rebuild our reserves and bring the budget back into balance. We’re proposing a modest increase in Council Tax to help us maintain a secure financial position and protect the valuable services that mean so much to local people.”