A BLEAK picture of the impact the current pandemic has had on Bury Council’s finances has been painted with the council leader warning again that ‘an inevitable consequence will probably be fewer jobs at the council’.

During an overview and scrutiny committee meeting examining the authorities financial position a finance chief said the cash impact in Bury from the Covid-19 crisis was likely to be around £42m - with just £18m in additional funding arriving from government.

The meeting heard that there had been an impact on the collection of council tax and business rates, additional costs directly attributable to public health demands and an increased demand on council services.

Council leader Cllr Eamonn O’Brien, said: ” This is the most uncertain financial time for councils, with additional complications to an already difficult situation.

“This report outlines those challenges some of our proposals and how we meet them.

“We are forecast £7.4m over budget for 2020/21 and that doesn’t even cover the entirety of the challenges as much is carried over to next year.

“The year due to Covid there is a £7.4m overspend but there is a much greater gap in funding in the short term.

“For the medium-term strategy we have built up three scenarios, optimistic, mid range and pessimistic, which set out broadly our financial position.

“It depends on factors beyond our control such as the length and depth of recession and how we can recover.

“Covid is not just health, it’s people’s jobs, housing and families being pushed into poverty.

“All this has impact on council’s finances with increased demands or far lower income from council tax and business rates.

“I can say with some certainty that even our optimistic scenario paints a very dark picture .

“In response we looking at refreshing our savings plan, dealing with demand and where we spend money on our priorities and how to manage as best we can through the right use of our reserves

“But we simply don’t have enough to do nothing. We appreciate what government has done to support us but we will need more.”

The meeting heard that council tax and business rates collections for this financial year were five per cent lower than estimated.

Cllr O’Brien was pressed by the chairman of the committee, Cllr Robert Caserta on whether there would be redundancies as part of any cost savings planned.

Cllr O’Brien, said: “There will be a series of service reviews and part and parcel of that is a risk about job losses

“Ultimately there’s only so many ways to make savings or to cut to council services.

“It doesn’t always lead to redundancies, sometimes we use early retirement, sometimes voluntary redundancy.

“We are facing an inevitable consequence that there will probably be fewer jobs at the council.”