THE Covid 19 pandemic has cost Bradford Council almost £100 million in the past year.

And a new report has revealed that this figure is likely to have risen to £150m by the end of next April.

A mixture of costs, such as providing a huge amount of public health schemes, and reduced income from sources such as leisure centres, car parks and theatres has led to the figure.

But members of Bradford Council’s Executive were this week told that thanks to “very welcome” financial support from the Government, the authority actually came in slightly under budget in the financial year that has just ended.

The Executive were presented with the Quarter Four financial statement – which deals with the final months of the financial year.

It said that Covid had also seen more people lose their jobs and go on to claim Council Tax Reduction, which has also hit Council finances.

But due to Government support, the Council came in at £200,000 under budget this past year.

The report says: “The financial impact of Covid has been vast.

“By the end of this financial year, the additional Covid related gross costs and losses associated with Council service provision will total £94m (£101m including Collection Fund losses), and will be £150m by the middle of next financial year.”

But the report adds: “The forecast costs and income losses to the Council are currently covered by very welcome additional funding from the Government which has materially changed the risk of significant financial loss to the Council as a result of Covid.

“However, it should also be noted that the timing of announcements of funding have resulted in significant financial uncertainty as we have travelled through the year.

So far additional financial support provided to the Council from Government has been £113.4m – which is due to last until June.

The report reveals that the Council currently has £7.9m unallocated Covid support, which will be used on outbreak control measures, funds to allow people on low incomes to self isolate after positive Covid tests and staff to allow the District’s Covid hubs to stay open longer.

The meeting was told that the number of people in Bradford claiming Council Tax support had risen during the pandemic from 27,000 to 32,300. The report adds: “Overall, the expected deficit for 2020-21 from the Council Tax collection is approximately £6.4m.”

Council departments impacted by Covid include waste, fleet and transport services, which overspent by £5.3m, partly due to the need for extra vehicles to allow bin collection staff to keep socially distant and Corporate Resources, which overspent by £14.3m, partly due to the cost of providing PPE and IT services to allow for home working, and

Council Leader Susan Hinchcliffe said: “I’m pleased that we are predicted to end this year on budget, which is no mean feat given what we’ve been through in the past year.

“Councils across the country are facing very challenging circumstances. We went into this with ten years of austerity behind us, which have diminished Councils.

“Half of our annual budget has gone thanks to government cuts to our budget.

“We are in a better position than many Councils, but we had to make many difficult decision in the past to get to this place.”

She said the Government had yet to provide funding for economic recovery in Bradford, and that was something the Council would be pushing for in the coming weeks.

Referring to the report’s claims that Government funding had “changed the risk” of financial loss, Councillor Mike Pollard (Cons, Baildon) said: “I would say that in this financial year it has completely extinguished that risk.”