Positive financial results and a major boost to reserves have put Somerset County Council in a strong position to cope with the coronavirus crisis.
In the last financial year, Somerset County Council increased its reserves to £76.2m across the board and delivered efficiencies and cost-cutting measures that enabled a £6.4m underspend.
It comes as councils across the country are struggling with increased costs and reduced income due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“This is tremendous news and means we can continue to support our vital frontline services during this emergency, protecting our residents and investing to help our schools, nurseries, care homes and more,” said Council Leader David Fothergill.
“I know that many councils, including some in Somerset, are worried about the increased costs that coronavirus has needed. We have all stepped up to care for our communities and we support them in calls to government to provide further funding in this area.”
The 2019/20 figures are included in a report going to Cabinet next week while another report will highlight the financial impact of the coronavirus crisis.*
SCC estimates additional costs of around £43.1m to help communities deal with coronavirus, including £16.7m related to adult services and £7.8m for children’s services:
- Paying a 10% increase to all care home providers to help them stay financially viable through the crisis – £3.1m
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – Government provides just 22% of the PPE required by schools, nurseries and key workers in Somerset, Somerset County Council is funding the remaining 78% – predicted cost £6m
- Setting up and running two new care homes in Yeovil and Wellington – £1m each
- Supporting nurseries and childcare settings to enable them to financially survive – £2.1m
- Running social care services seven days a week – £1m
- Supporting District Councils with additional homelessness costs – £0.8
- Supporting our supply chain on major building projects – £2.3m
- Plus a whole host of other costs that add up
(Estimated costs as of 5 June, including loss of income. The figures are subject to change and are regularly updated to take account if the latest information and government guidance.)
A single phone number is available for anyone in Somerset who needs Coronavirus-related support from their councils. The Somerset Coronavirus Support Helpline number, 0300 790 6275, makes it easier for people to access any local authority help they may need, including emotional support, during the current crisis. Lines are open seven days a week from 8am to 6pm.
For more information about Somerset County Council’s response to the coronavirus emergency please visit http://www.somerset.gov.uk/coronavirus, where you can also sign up for regular email updates.