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MONEY from the Welsh Government to help pay the cost of coronavirus, has allowed a £1.8 million Powys Covid Recovery Fund to be set up.

Last week, the original budget proposal of a 3.9 per cent Council Tax hike was changed by the Independent/Conservative cabinet to 2.9 percent with the fund also part of the announcement.

It was explained at a Powys County Council (PCC) meeting where the budget was narrowly voted through, that extra funding from the Welsh Government in January and February had made the changes possible.

At a meeting of the Finance panel, on Friday, February 26, questions were asked about the details of this funding.

Councillors were looking at the quarterly financial report from the end of December which showed that PCC were estimating to finish the 2020/21   £570,000 overbudget, and saw no details of the grant funding in the report.

On January 29, PCC received £621,000 to cover some of the unpaid Council Tax of 2020/21.

Then on February 12, PCC received £2.2 million from the Welsh Government’s Covid Hardship fund.

Cllr David Thomas, (Labour Tawe Uchaf) said: “We passed a budget and this information wasn’t available. ”

Head of Finance, Jane Thomas, explained that the detail of the changes would be shown in the financial report for the fourth quarter.

Ms Thomas said: “This is the extra grant funding, it’s on top of these figures.

“The £2.2 million is support for  undelivered savings and to support digital costs of staff working from home. which have been incurred by PCC over a number of years.”

Ms Thomas said: “That new money is additional to all of that, and will improve our financial position in terms of the last quarter.”

Cllr Thomas, said: “As far as this year’s budget is concerned, any overspends, pressures that didn’t materialise, loss of income, council tax loss, etc are all going to be managed by year end within this year’s budget?

“And consequently as a result of that, the grants that we received in January and February from the Welsh Government are going to allow us to set up a Covid Recovery Fund?”

Ms Thomas, answered: “Absolutely.

“If that wasn’t the case then I would not have been able to support that as part of the budget proposal.

“We weren’t expecting to receive that funding, this forecast looks at the Council having to meet costs using it’s own resources.

Ms Thomas added: “What we’ve seen or know we are going to receive will go into that revised forecast.”

“You will then see a much improved position with a projected underspend at that point.”

Finance portfolio holder, Cllr Aled Davies (Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant & Llansilin – Conservative) said “This information is for December 31, you have to put aside the recent announcement when you’re looking at this report.”

Finance panel chairman and independent member, John Brautigam, said: “It’s the problem of looking at things two months in arrears.”

Mr Brautigam hoped the report for quarter four would available for their next meeting at the end of March.

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