Fife's COVID bill starts to fall, but it still stands at £66m

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The impact of coronavirus on Fife Council's coffers has diminished once more as finance chiefs get a firmer grasp on the consequences of the global pandemic.

Councillors on the region's Policy and Resources Committee were told that the Covid-19 bill was now around £66 million - down from the most recent estimate of £73 million and a peak of £78 million.

Local authority accountants remain confident that they will avoid dipping into a £10 million pot of reserves, despite a £3.7 million shortfall in currently agreed funding to cover Covid-related expenses.

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Finance minister Kate Forbes boosted a lost income fund for councils from £90m to £200m as part of the Scottish budget for 2021/22. Fife will receive funding from this to cover many of its costs, along with £15.2 million for health and social care and £40 million for education.

Fife House, HQ of Fife CouncilFife House, HQ of Fife Council
Fife House, HQ of Fife Council

Among the biggest outliers in Fife - almost entirely pinned on the coronavirus crisis - are building services, which has seen £18.7m of expected income delayed due to lockdown, £3.5m of lost income at Fife leisure and culture centres and upwards of £2m in lost parking fees.

In all, Fife could be left with over £18 million of uncommitted pocket money thanks to what Eileen Rowland, director of finance and corporate services, called "one-off" financial boosts from ministers.

Councillors feel the support being provided by the Scottish Government in response to coronavirus has been a boon.

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Committee convener and council co-leader David Alexander, added: "There's money moving around like Las Vegas at the moment but it's all going the one way - we're not losing."

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