Agenda item

COVID-19 Pandemic - Financial Recovery & Positive Legacy


Claire Hazeldene – Acting Head of Finance – introduced the report, stating that work had commenced on the Council’s recovery from COVID 19 in late April 2020, with 5 main work streams having been identified:-


1.    Reinstating services (to be reported to the Service Delivery Panel);

2.    Economic recovery (Service Delivery Panel);

3.    Community recovery (Community Panel);

4.    Financial recovery (Resources Panel);

5.    Taking advantage of the positive legacy (Resources Panel).


Financial recovery

The development of the recovery response was underpinned by the assessment of the overall financial impact of COVID-19, with key priorities identified as:-

·         Developing revised financial plans to take account of the financial impact and plan for the ongoing implications;

·         Accounting for the significant treasury impact;

·         Identifying and planning for the additional costs of additional service demands; and

·         Providing for the additional costs arising from recovery.


A risk matrix was compiled identifying potential financial risks, rated on status as either green (costs already being incurred), amber (costs likely to occur – as yet unidentified) or red (remained a risk – not yet emerged to date). This currently showed as follows:-


General Fund

Impact Range based on Timescales








Impact Emerging




Impact Likely




Potential Risk









The £2.3m shown above had been offset by 2 funding allocations from government totalling £1m and a drawdown from reserves of £1.3m.


On 2 July 2020, the Secretary of State announced a further package of financial support in 3 parts:-


1.    COVID-19 related expenditure – A further £500m non ring-fenced allocation, taking the total support to £4.3b;

2.    Irrecoverable income loss – recognising that Councils had lost income from sales, fees and charges since the start of the pandemic and looked to reimburse 75% of such losses over and above 5% of planned income;

3.    Losses in tax revenue – Tax deficits able to be repaid over 3 years rather than the usual 1 year.


Concerns regarding the long term impact of COVID-19 had led to work commencing on an early review of the Medium Term Financial Plan, a summary of which would be presented to the Audit & Accounts Committee in September 2020.


Taking Advantage of the Positive Legacy

Tanya Cooper – Head of Organisational Development and Transformation – outlined to members the following main areas:-


·         Green infrastructure delivery;

·         Digital infrastructure; and

·         Transport e.g. increase in walking or cycling to work.


The reduction in travel, benefits to staff through home-working, additional channel shifts reducing direct contact, increase in contact with local businesses in administering the grants and the reduction in unnecessary beaurocracy were all seen as positives. Areas under investigation were:-



Possible output

Review internal processes that have already had to change as a result of home working / office closures

Identify processes that have been forced to change and already improved as a result of COVID.

We want to retain these improved working practices, so that they are not disregarded in the future and an old way of working re-introduced.

Review of other internal service processes to remove manual, paper-based processes that have created hurdles during lockdown

Opportunity to positively steer our Digital Transformation further.

Goal to digitise where possible & needed to improve overall efficiency – reduced manual / paper processes will also improve service area efficiency.

Introduce electronic only copies of planning applications to Parish and Town Councils.

Reduse our staff carbon footprint (travelling / printing) by improved and increased use of technology and a delivery of a digital workplace.

Opportunity to embrace this digital direction with implementation of Microsoft 365 suite, enabling access for Teams, Sharepoint, Stream etc.

Video conferencing for staff meetings will result in reduction in travel to attend meetings and participation in online training courses.

Reduce post distribution – wecan be more green and generate less paper. Reduction in collection and distribution of post frequencies = reduction in contract costs.

Increase the number of services that customers can make payments online for

Drive and promote online payments / alternative payment channels.

Potential to reduce the number of chip and pin machines on receptions = consider impact on reception opening hours, agree to removal of existing (and costly) cash / cheque channels.

This will enable us to promote online payments / DD’s as customers will choose to transact with us in different ways.

Improve/ enhance council functions / services that are currently available online to the public.

Review of transactions / services that are not currently available online (Waste / Repairs / Pest Control / Licensing / NNDR) and make improvements to those that are already (CT / Benefits).

Analyse queries that are / were historically handled face-to-face (If not since lockdown, why?).

Drive ‘Do it online’ – Delivery of more end-to-end transactions for customers to self-serve. This will include  / improve automation of back officed processes.

Develop OD strategy and ICT  / Digital Transformation strategy enabling Agile working as a focus.

Increase in Agile working and increase to flexible working arrangements, skills and structure to support new ways of working – increased productivity from home-working.

New / amended policy required – will ensure aligned with corporate plans.

Understand our new way of working, assessing the IT requirements tio support Agile working.

Virtualisation of Committee Meetings

Hold and stream public meetings via Teams.

Issue of Committee reports and introduction of Information Digests to members.


Members raised queries as follows (responses in brackets):

·         Was there planning in place in the event that the pandemic should worsen over winter? (Weekly meetings were taking place with senior management and Project Leaders, keeping a close monitor on the situation);

·         What were the ‘Community safety issues’ referred to in the report? (The potential risk of impact of a recession and resultant unemployment);

·         Virtual meetings seemed to be taking longer than normal meetings. Some of the ‘cut and thrust’ could be lost. Technical difficulties had been experienced. There was a desire to go to ‘Hybrid’ meetings but this would need an act of parliament. (Noted);

·         Were any staff redundancies envisaged as a result of COVID-19? (No, the desire was for more flexibility.);

·         The democratic process must be maintained. With regard to electronic-only planning documents being issued to Parish / Town Councils, some did not have the facilities to function in this way. (This was under investigation. The current arrangement was for electronic-only.);


DECIDED – That the Panel NOTE the details of the Council’s recovery to the COVID-19 pandemic, SUPPORT the proposed recovery plans and IDENTIFY the areas of activity requiring further consideration.

Supporting documents: