Suffolk should make surplus despite Covid cost hitting £72m

Endeavour House

Suffolk County Council should be able to carry over a surplus after dealing with Covid. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Fighting the Covid pandemic cost Suffolk County Council more than £72m during its first year, councillors will be told next week.

But because of central government support the council should not lose out financially - and should be able to carry over a surplus of more than £6m at the end of the current financial year.

The country went into its first lockdown at the end of March 2020, just as the new financial year was about to start.

According to figures that will be discussed by the council's audit committee next week, the pandemic cost the council £72.2m in extra expenditure and lost income during the 2020/21 financial year.

The areas that saw the greatest impact were adult and community services and the public health department.

While the costs rose because of the pandemic, the council did receive extra money from the government to help it deal with the crisis. 

During the 18 months from the start of the pandemic until the end of September this year, the county council received a total of £153.1m from the government to cover the extra costs it has built up.

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In a report to the committee, officers say that the current estimate is that at the end of the financial year the county will have a surplus of £6.6m from this support which it will be able to carry forward into next year's budget.

The report says there was only a small amount of fraud detected despite large claims for support being made.

The focus of the council is now on returning to a "normal" way of working which should including re-introducing office working in a phased way and using the experience of the last two years to devise a new way of working.

It says: "The council has shown considerable adaptability in its response to the Covid19 pandemic whilst retaining a focus on proportionate governance and assurance.

"In the early days of the pandemic, things moved at pace, with limited national guidance, and there was a need to set up local arrangements. The organisation acted quickly, and staff were responsive to needs."

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