LAST year’s budget is set to be nearly £8 million better than expected, thanks to grants coming from the Welsh Government during February.
At Powys County Council’s (PCC) cabinet meeting on Tuesday, April 13, Finance portfolio holder, Cllr Aled Davies, went through a report written which painted a much rosier picture than the one that had been expected a few months ago.
Back in May last year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, PCC expected a financial meltdown as they predicted losing £3.35million a month.
Cllr Davies (Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant & Llansilin – Conservative) said: “Through February a number of funding announcements have been made with additional grants totalling £7.8 million, providing support for council services.”
This means that money that the council’s own money which had already been earmarked to be spent on services is now being offset by the new funding,
Cllr Davies said: “The continued support of the Welsh Government Hardship Fund and the receipt of the additional support improves our financial position for the projected surplus of £5.9 million.”
With the Schools Delegated Budget and Housing Revenue Account added to this, the figure comes to just over £7.9 million.
The report says that so far PCC has received £10.5 million from the hardship fund which goes on costs incurred due to the pandemic such as Social Care,
Homelessness, PPE, Free School Meals.
On top of this the council has also receive £2.54 million to cover loss of income from April to December 2020.
Cllr Davies who is number four on the Senedd Election regional list for Mid and Weest Wales for the Tories, explained that this extra funding and improved financial situation had allowed for a number of changes to be made to the 2021/22 budget which was narrowly voted through at the council meeting on February 25.
This includes setting up the £1.8 million Covid Recovery Fund.
Head of finance, Jane Thomas, stressed that the extra money coming up from Cardiff Bay needed to be seen as “one off” funding, and should not be expected for future years.
Ms Thomas said: “We do see ourselves in a much better position than we originally forecast.
“We have seen a lot of support coming through, but it is one off funding it does not improve our baseline budget.”
She believed that how it would be used would “shore up” future commitments particularly around the council’s building programme.
“It will add some more resilience to our plans over the next couple of years,” said Ms Thomas.
Council leader, Cllr Rosemarie Harris (Independent – Llangynidr( said: “We have to be very grateful to the Welsh Government for that extra funding it’s enabled us to do repairs to our buildings which is very helpful, we have had so many years of austerity when we had to make cuts.”
Cabinet noted the updated position an approved the virements of £400,000 to critical repairs to council property and £220,000 to fund essential maintenance work on council owned care homes.