Bath and North East Somerset Council facing £42m deficit this financial year

Bath and North East Somerset Council is facing up to a potential £42 million black hole in its finances for the 2020/21 financial year.

The sizeable deficit has been blamed on the Covid-19 pandemic and a "double whammy" of lost income and extra spending.

Income from the council’s Heritage Services, which includes visitor attractions like the Roman Baths Museum, fell by more than £4m in April and May compared with the same period last year. Parking revenue dropped by £1.6m.

The council also estimates that responding to the outbreak by supporting the most vulnerable and supplying vital PPE has cost it a further £10m.

The position we now find ourselves in is not of our making, but we must play our part in putting it right. Solving the budget shortfall will not be easy and will require a shared endeavour between the council, our communities and central government.

Dine Romero, Leader of the council
Tourists flocked to the city in June 2019. Credit: PA
£91,000

The council has been losing this much money every day in parking and heritage income.

Bath and north East Somerset Council says it has drawn up a financial recovery ‘roadmap’ to protect key local services and support the recovery and renewal of the area.

A report prepared for the council’s cabinet identifies more than £22m of cost saving changes which will be made to meet the projected shortfall.

BANES Council says it will leave vacancies unfilled and offer reduced hours to save money. Credit: PA

They include reviewing the timetable for delivering capital projects, and reducing the council’s salary budget by leaving vacancies unfilled and offering reduced hours.

The council also hopes to receive further government funding in the coming weeks to supplement an earlier £10m handout, and will draw on its own emergency reserves to plug any remaining deficit.

We have taken decisive action to ensure a balanced budget for this year. What has become clear though is that the council needs to review its reliance on the visitor economy and its commercial estate as funding sources for core council services.

Councillor Richard Samuel,
Income from the city's tourist attractions fell by more than £4m in April and May. Credit: ITV News

Residents will be able to hear more details and comment on the recovery plans via a the webinar and Youtube stream.

A detailed report will go before councillors at the Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel on Tuesday 30 June and cabinet on Thursday 2 July.