East Lothian Council’s financial performance and draft accounts approved
East Lothian Council’s draft accounts for financial year 2020/21 and overall financial position at the end of the financial year (period to 31 March) were discussed at a council meeting last Tuesday.
The draft financial position set out at the end of March 2021, reflects additional COVID-19 related funding provided to local authorities by the Scottish Government during the year resulting in an overall surplus declared of £12.5m.
Norman Hampshire, depute council leader, said: “The past financial year has of course been dominated by the impact of the COVID pandemic on council services. This has proved to be extremely challenging at times with a need to adjust priorities to those most affected in our communities whilst continuing to provide essential services across the county.
“Local authorities were very much in the frontline during the pandemic and East Lothian Council has been operating its business continuity plans for all of the past year. The overall surplus figure of £12.5m carried into the next financial year will be required to support COVID related expenditure with the long term impact of the pandemic not yet fully determined, and almost £9m of this sum is already earmarked to support COVID recovery costs in 2021/22 and beyond.”
He added: “The council has processed, administered and awarded a number of business support grants with more than £28m (of the £36.4m in total) delivered to local businesses across East Lothian being reflected in the accounts. In addition a new Coronavirus Fuel Poverty Fund was established to help households in financial hardship with around 600 one-off payments of £100 paid to people who need help with gas or electricity charges.
“The council also set up funding to support vulnerable Social Work clients experiencing financial difficulties and provided £300,000 to the six Area Partnerships to tackle food insecurity by providing support for a range of community based food initiatives.”
Mr Hampshire continued: “Outwith the Covid-related expenditure most service areas operated within approved budget levels and we were able to deliver £57m of capital investment during the year including the completion of the new Letham Mains Primary School in Haddington; investment of around £7m in the county’s roads infrastructure; additions and on-going investment to the council’s housing stock and assets of around £21m and considerable investment in the design and required works for the extended provision of Early Learning and Childcare.”
“Although the past year has been unprecedented in terms of demand for council services, staff across the council have worked tirelessly with innovative ways of working to ensure the continuation of key services. I am extremely proud of how well East Lothian Council has reacted and coped with these challenges. The draft financial year end position and accounts were built on previously well managed finances and will ensure continued stability into the current financial year.”