Mid Sussex Cabinet discuss coronavirus impact

PR2277/MF/JAE - 02/06/2020

Cabinet met on Monday 1 June to discuss the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on council services and finances.

Mid Sussex District Council staff are classed as Category One Responders for the coronavirus outbreak and they have a key role to play in leading the local response to the pandemic. Cabinet heard how the Council had taken on additional responsibilities to support the local community and that the coronavirus pandemic had led to increased demand for existing services.

The Council’s benefits staff have been working hard to support local businesses, issuing over 1,800 Business Support Grants, totalling more than £23 million alongside processing and increased number of Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit claims. There has also been a significant increase in the number of people in need of temporary housing accommodation and the amount of waste collected from households has increased because people are spending more time at home.

In addition to the increased demand for services, Council income has reduced. Car park charges were suspended on 30 March to ease pressure on the roads and help residents park safely while people were asked to stay at home. Garden waste collections, which is a paid subscription service, was paused for a month to prioritise the collection of rubbish and recycling. Fewer people are able to pay Council Tax and rental income from investment properties has reduced because businesses have been asked to close.

The Council is currently losing between £600,000 and £700,000 per month because of the coronavirus pandemic and the required lockdown measures. The Government has provided just over £1.5 million to the Council in support of the coronavirus relief effort but this only covers income lost in April and May.

Cllr Jonathan Ash-Edwards, Leader of Mid Sussex District Council said:
“I would like to thank residents across Mid Sussex for all you have done to slow the spread of Coronavirus by following the public health guidelines over the past weeks. I know these weeks have been very difficult for many people.

“The coronavirus outbreak has placed unprecedented demands on the Council and our staff have done a tremendous job to maintain our core services, support our local businesses and protect the vulnerable throughout this pandemic.

“We receive daily briefings from the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government and we have remained agile, particularly during the early weeks of the outbreak, to change our approach quickly as we learn more about the virus.

“Just like many local businesses, the Council is seeing significant reductions in revenue because of the coronavirus outbreak. We are grateful for the financial support the Government has provided so far but more is needed and there is no guarantee of further support at this stage.

“We are on the road to recovery from this terrible virus but it’s clear that we will all face some difficult times ahead.

“We are currently reviewing all aspects of delivering our services in the short, medium and long term, with a view to making the required savings. We expect to have a revised Corporate Plan and Budget ready as early as September.”

The Cabinet meeting was the first to be held virtually by Mid Sussex District Council since the Government introduced temporary regulations to allow committee meetings to take place via video link.