The amount spent on tackling the coronavirus crisis in Bracknell has been revealed.

Bracknell Forest Council received £10.5 million in Government grant funding to soften the financial blow of the pandemic.

Of that, £7.8 million in grants was paid to meet additional costs resulting from the pandemic on a day to day basis, and another £2.7 million to help compensate for lost income from frees and charges. 

Councillor Peter Heydon, executive member for  transformation and finance, said those grants came from “multiple streams” throughout the 2020/21 financial year.

Cllr Heydon told us the figure after a request from the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

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Of the £7.8 million in grant funding, £2.084 million went to the council's 'Delivery' directorate, which covers council services such as parking and waste collection. 

The remainder went to the council's 'People' directorate which covers adult and children's services, and the 'General' directorate which covers other council services. 

The revealing of the figure comes following the delivery of a report on the council’s finances for 2020/21 to Bracknell Forest Council’s  executive committee meeting yesterday (Tuesday, July 20).

During the meeting, Cllr Heydon said: “Its the 22nd year in succession we have actually delivered within budget, and its a record which justifiably we’re very proud of.

“I would like to acknowledge the support we’ve actually had from central Government for all the additional horrendous pressures caused by covid and I think it’s right to acknowledge they actually have supported the local authorities very very well.

“We have a very strong balance sheet. We still face uncertainties, covid’s not over yet, and we’re still waiting for the future funding policy, which is still to be agreed which effects such important areas as business rates and their collection and redistribution.

“We are financially sound with a strong balance sheet.”

Cllr Heydon later explained Government funding helped protect the council from unforecast costs and unforecast dips in finances. For example, much of the council’s revenue from its car parks was hit when usage of them dropped of due to the forced closure of shops and restaurants. A paper reported to the committee stated that the council lost £1.019 million in income due to the closure of the car parks.

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Cllr Dr Gareth Barnard, executive member for children, young people and learning said: “There’s been a huge amount of work to ensure that we had a sustainable year in term of our finances.

“This is so important, because by managing strong and robust finances, it gives us the opportunity to transform our services to work in different ways without having to make sudden drastic decisions, it means we can manage things in terms of what we can do for our residents in a careful, managed way, so we can look to our future.

“It doesn’t happen without a huge amount of hard work and I want to all our officers from director level down, and from the chief executive down.”

It was also revealed that the council has a war chest of  £2.706 million in Government coronavirus grant funding which is due to be spent during the rest of this year. 

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The council was left in a position to ‘carry forward’ £193,000. This is money which the council expected to spend, and budgeted for, but have not been incurred yet. An example of this would be maintenance work that had to be delayed due to coronavirus restrictions.

The executive committee unanimously decided to approve the report and  ‘carry forward’ £193,000 into this year’s budget, for the 2021/22 financial year.

Members also considered a report on the council’s capital spending, which are related to the council’s investments and the land it owns.

It also unanimously approved the report and carried forward an unspent sum of £25.007 million into the 2021/22 budget.

The executive committee is made up entirely of Conservatives.