Cabinet to assess coronavirus impact

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Last Updated: 11 May 2020 1:41pm

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Tonbridge and Malling council services, the local community and businesses is set out in a report to cabinet members published today.

The report, due to be discussed at the council’s first online meeting on 19 May, also puts forward priorities for the recovery process, including the need to explore new models for delivery of some services in future.

Tonbridge and Malling was successful in securing £1.35 million of emergency funding from government. However, cabinet members will be asked to confirm an “essential spend only” policy to help mitigate a loss of income estimated to be £3-5 million from sources including council tax, parking charges and business rates.

The council is also forecasting increased spending of around £350,000 in a number of areas, including support for shielded residents and providing temporary accommodation to 100 individuals and families.

The report states: “Unless there are further significant tranches of funding provided by government which meet the expected shortfalls, members should expect to see significant balances wiped from our reserves.”

Cabinet members are also advised that an updated strategy to support the recovery process and deliver services on a sustainable basis will be required.  It adds that a return to “business as usual” cannot be assumed and that: “The ‘new normal’ is likely to require a complete review of our budget…as we adapt to delivering the priority services in different ways.”

The report also provides an overview of the wider council response to the pandemic. This has included remote working by most staff, the suspension of some services, paying grants to local businesses and setting up a community hub to provide support to vulnerable households.

Council Leader, Nicolas Heslop, said: “The challenge of the pandemic has been enormous and the response of our staff has been excellent in both protecting essential services and delivering additional support to the community and businesses.

“In common with most of business and families, our finances have taken a significant hit and we should not be in any doubt about the serious and long-term implications for all of us. This first meeting provides an opportunity to assess our response and start shaping a recovery strategy.

“In the coming weeks I hope members from all parties will come together to help us chart a course and think imaginatively about how we adapt and navigate the uncharted waters that lie ahead.”

The full report can be read here: