Huge cost of Covid-19 to Thurrock Council scrutinised

Oliver Gerrish 17

Huge cost of Covid-19 to Thurrock Council scrutinised

AT June’s Corporate Overview and Scrutiny committee of Thurrock Council, councillors were presented with a report on the huge ongoing impact of Covid-19 on the council’s finances.

Chair of the committee, Councillor Oliver Gerrish said, “The effort to deal with the coronavirus means the council has already spent an extra £9.7 million. While the majority of this has been covered by the Government, it seems that there will be additional costs through the year – a conservative estimate is a budget gap of around £10m carried into the next financial year.

“Currently, there is no guarantee that this will be covered by the Government, and as such this represents a black hole in Thurrock Council’s budget planning. My view is very clear – the Tory council needs to loudly and continuously lobby the Government for additional funding. If they do not, the burden of these additional costs will fall on Thurrock taxpayers, either directly through increased bills or with massive cuts to services. The council must act now to avoid this outcome.

“At the same time, the impact has not just been on Thurrock Council. Businesses up and down the borough have been hit hard by the crisis. It is imperative that the council leads a coordinated response to get Thurrock’s economy back on its feet. Just as we have thought about regeneration in the borough over the last 10 years, we now need an economic reconstruction plan to help our businesses recover from what has been an unprecedented disruption.”

Councillor Gerrish concluded: “With swift action, I believe the council can get Thurrock back on its feet again and prevent too much of the cost falling on local taxpayers. However, it needs to act decisively and take a strong lead rather than leaving events to unfold.”

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