‘WE will need more funding’ — that’s the opinion of Bucks Council’s finance boss as the authority tries to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

‘No service cuts’ have been promised by Richard Ambrose, the finance chief, as the council tries to work its way through a ‘mismatch’ between its forced spending during the crisis and funding from the government.

Around £25 million has been given to the council in ‘unringfenced’ money from the government, which means authority chiefs can use this cash for whatever they deem most necessary.

But Katrina Wood, the council’s resources boss, said: “We anticipate costs and lost income may exceed this £25.6 million funding but by how much does depend on the time scales around the current lockdown.

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“There is a mismatch in terms of funding received and spend but we are lobbying really hard on more funding.

“We don’t know how much more funding we’re going to need at the moment, it depends what happens in the future, how long lockdown lasts for.”

Cllr Wood said most of the council’s increased spend went on a surge in demand for social care, temporary accommodation and food parcels.

The authority has also lost income from car parking, property and planning.

Documents suggest Buckinghamshire Council will have received £2.25 million less from planning fees than expected by April 2021, and around a million pounds a month while it was not collecting cash from its car parks.

But no official forecast for how much the pandemic will cost in total was included in the finance and resources committee’s report on the issue.

Richard Ambrose, Bucks Council’s top finance chief, explained: “It’s really difficult to forecast what the implications are of the pandemic on the council’s finances because we don’t know how long things are going to last and how long it’s going to take to recover.

“Like other local authorities, we will need some more funding to fully cover those costs and lost income.

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“Lots of councils are issuing section 114 notices — where they effectively don’t have any cash — we’re not in that position.”

Council tax and business rates are two more revenue streams where the council is missing out due to some residents’ inability to pay.

But council tax collection is only down 1.7 per cent compared to how much the authority would have expected to rake in by now.

The authority has around £49 million in its general fund reserves and around £100 million in its earmarked reserves — money which is typically saved for emergency situations or special projects.

Mr Ambrose said the council would look to use some of this money to help the authority cope with the crisis instead of making cuts to services this financial year.

Councillor Chris Whitehead said he found this statement “hard to believe”, but Mr Ambrose responded: “In the current financial year we are not intending to have to be forced into making big service reductions or cuts to balance the budget, we believe there are other ways of doing it.

“We are looking at our earmarked reserves, we will use those if necessary.

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“That will buy us time to understand the picture and get more sophisticated modelling going forward.”

The discussion took place at the committee meeting held on Thursday, June 25.