STRATFORD District Council is set to face the fourth biggest economic hit of all local authorities in the UK from coronavirus.
That is the prediction of a report compiled by the Centre for Progressive Policy think tank measuring gross value added (GVA) – the measure of the value of goods and services produced in an area, industry or sector of an economy.
The council is currently projecting the financial impact will be a loss of £8.1m of revenue – the likes of parking charges and planning fees – in the first half of this year alone. It is revenue which will never be recovered.
And in addition extra costs incurred to date are £337,000 and rising.
All of this does not include the on-going impact of lower economic activity, the loss of revenue from lower business rates and council tax collection with many more residents eligible for the Council Tax Reduction Scheme of 80 per cent.
The second tranche of funding from central government announced yesterday (April 28) allocated the district council nearly £1.3million but it will be “nowhere near enough” to plug the hole in the authority’s revenue for 2020-21.
Council chiefs say it will impact the authority’s ability to deliver services at their current level in the future.
Deputy leader Daren Pemberton said: “The report published very much reflects our own thinking and our own analysis shows the level of response that will be needed to start and maintain the recovery.
“We are facing a perfect storm because many of our key businesses are in the tourism and hospitality sectors, which will be the last out of lockdown, while the automotive and manufacturing sectors will be deeply affected by the inevitable worldwide slowdown”
“We’ve already started doing the critical thinking and our future decisions will be crucial to supporting and enabling recovery.
“We are already shaping our economic plans by engaging with businesses, local authority partners and other key stakeholders.
“At the same time we are already lobbying our local MPs and central government about the issues that we will face in the future. The government has already put a number of measures in place to support businesses locally which we support and we will do all we can to provide the necessary support to give our businesses and residents the best chance of economic recovery.”
* Stratford District Council has been lobbying central government about financial support for B&B and guest house owners since those that pay council tax rather than business rates cannot claim small business grants announced by the chancellor.
Coun Pemberton said: “We know how important B&Bs and guest houses are to our local economy and that is why we have been lobbying central government to see what support is available to them.
“We have received a letter from our MP Nadhim Zahawi, who has had a response from Paul Scully MP, Small Business, Consumers & Labour Markets, and although not great news immediately, he has said they are continuing to look at ‘where businesses are potentially falling through the cracks of support and will continue to assess such scenarios.’
“The government also said that these grants are one part of a broader package of support for businesses and employees and that other support provided might be more suitable. They also urged these businesses to lobby tourism groups so they can recount their individual experiences and we would support this.”
Clik here to read the Centre for Progressive Policy report.