Angus Council’s budget will be redrawn as the county emerges from the coronavirus pandemic with a near £4 million hole on the balance sheet.
A harsh financial picture being presented to councillors at a full meeting of the authority this week will include a plan to raid reserves of nearly £1m and shift ring-fenced funding for early years provision which has gone unspent because of the Covid-19 crisis.
The raft of reports going before elected members will also bring a dire warning around the future for the trust which runs the area’s sports and culture facilities, with fears it could be years before income levels recover to even 80% of what they previously were.
Angus Alive is preparing to re-open leisure centre doors in a phased return beginning next week.
The arm’s length external organisation (ALEO) receives a £3.9m management fee from the council, but that represents only around 45% percent of overall operating costs.
The remainder comes from customer income – 88% from the leisure area of the business – which has effectively been wiped out since the March lockdown.
It had been on course to hit a 17% savings target by 2023 and will now be facing a radical redesign to recover from the effects of coronavirus, with an added layer of complexity since five of the body’s seven sites are shared with schools.
But taxpayers have been told that the range of measures will not have any impact on the 2020/21 council tax bills they have to pay.
Angus Provost Councillor Ronnie Proctor said, “This appalling pandemic has pervaded every corner of our society and I fear its repercussions will be felt for some time to come.
“However, there is no doubt that the council faces some tough decisions and stark choices in the future.”
Council leader David Fairweather said: “The unique circumstances of the sports, leisure and culture sector have been harsh and are likely to be enduring.
“As society moves from response to recovery and then renewal, we must ensure that our sports, leisure and culture providers are rescued from the perilous position they find themselves in through no fault of their own so that a local and national focus on physical and mental health and wellbeing is possible.”
Amidst fears some ALEOs will not survive the crisis, discussions are ongoing between Scottish Government and COSLA regarding support for councils and their culture and leisure trusts for lost income due the pandemic.