The coronavirus pandemic has cost Kingston Council (RBK) over £10 million so far according to documents published on the council website recently.

A report looking at the impact of Covid-19 on the borough council’s finances detailed how the millions of pounds worth of losses were calculated after factoring in the substantial sums the council have already received from government grants handed out to councils to help them absorb the shock of the ongoing pandemic.

Overall, the “total general fund revenue financial impact of Covid-19 is currently estimated to

be £20.502m” on RBK’s finances. However, once government assistance in the form of grants worth £8.525 million and £1.809 million are factored in, the “the current estimate after mitigation is £10.168m,” the document reads.

“The financial impact of Covid across Local Government is significant and grave and the sector is working with central government so that it clearly understands the support required and risks if that support is not forthcoming,” the document continues.

It also warns of the scale of the looming economic crisis that the pandemic will bring to the UK, and highlights the “difficulty” or preparing an economic strategy in light of the current upheaval:

“The international economic recession that is emerging is predicted to be like nothing experienced in living memory. Therefore it is difficult to forecast the impact on the Council’s in-year finances or medium term strategy.”

Local authorities across England have had their funding cut significantly under successive coalition and Conservative governments since 2010.

According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), local councils in England had their budgets slashed by an average of 26 per cent between 2009/10-2016/17, and “cuts have been bigger in poorer, more urban areas.”

RBK highlighted that impact in a statement published Wednesday (June 24).

“It is absolutely our role to protect residents who are especially vulnerable...But the government needs to be clear that this comes at a price - years of cuts to local government spending means there simply isn’t spare cash to cover a long-term emergency response or meet the significant increases in service demands and loss of income,” RBK’s Leader Caroline Kerr said in the statement.

RBK’s financial impact document suggested that plans contained within its latest budgets, released on March 31, could be changed due to coronavirus.

Cllr Kerr meanwhile said that RBK’s priority remained helping the borough’s most vulnerable amid the ongoing pandemic.

“The on-going response to support people is obviously a priority for us,” she said.

“Hundreds of people across Kingston have come together to support residents in new and different ways - and we will need to keep doing this as we face the ongoing and longer term health and financial impacts of the pandemic.”