CORONAVIRUS could cost Slough Borough Council (SBC) £15.3 million as cabinet councillors set out a recovery plan.

Cabinet members are set to meet online for the first-time next Monday since March when all ‘non-essential’ meetings were cancelled following government’s advice to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

Councillors will discuss documents released by SBC which claim its £7.6 million portion of the two waves of Covid-19 emergency grants handed out by government to local authorities across England were ‘insufficient’ – leaving a gap of £7.7 million.  

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The council has identified a £6.1m loss of income due to the coronavirus, £2.7m in reduced council tax and business grants, and additional spending pressures on services like adult social care will cost SBC £6.5m.

£4.8m in cost savings have also been identified by the local authority to partly offset this gap – leaving a possible £2.9m financial risk on the council’s general reserves which is estimated to be at £16.1m.

Adult and communities could see £300,000 in spending reductions and £1.8m could be reduced in children, learning and skills.

Slough Borough Council has made a ‘three stage model’ to cover the short and medium-term impact the coronavirus has made on the finances of the council and the health and wellbeing of the residents.

What are these ‘stages’?

Stage one focuses on the short-term impact (0-6 months) and entails the SBC’s response to Covid-19 on protecting vulnerable residents, reducing the risk of spreading the virus by prioritising personal protective equipment and for critical services like waste disposal to keep running.

Stage two – a two-year recovery plan – and stage three – a five-year renewal plan – will focus on the medium-term impact of Covid-19.

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These two stages are related which both seek to kickstart Slough’s economy by:

  • Accelerating regeneration and investment to deliver existing projects on time where it’s in control of SBC and their partners
  • Continue building and implement more of the voluntary, charitable, community, faith sectors that’s recently been set up
  • Improve on residents’ possible decline in health and wellbeing caused by the coronavirus by creating a ‘wealth/health virtuous circle’ to promote inclusion and reduce isolation.

A sub-group with a mixture from multiple divisions within SBC such as finance will be set up to draw up planning reports to support the recovery and renewal group.
More details will be revealed at next Monday’s virtual cabinet meeting.

Other items on the agenda such as an update on the council’s Slough Urban Renewal – a range of regeneration projects across the borough, approving a series of contracts estimated over £180,000, etc. are also set to be discussed and voted on.