Build back better: Mendip District Council's £57 million COVID spend supports local communities

Mendip District Council's COVID-spend topped £57 million - providing a lifeline to residents and local businesses during the crisis.

Thousands of Government grants have been processed since lockdown helping the vulnerable, and our high streets, to survive the economic shock.

The money has been used to provide business grants, ensure business rates relief to nurseries and retail, to support working age Council Tax payers in receipt of Council Tax Support and for general additional costs incurred by the Council relating to COVID-19. 

Central Government gave District Councils the responsibility of delivering the bulk of the finance packages to communities. They recognised local authorities were best placed to encourage residents and businesses to access the help available.

But funding received by Government does not cover all Mendip's costs. Despite prudent financial management, an all-but balanced budget last year, and some sound commercial investments, the Council faces a funding shortfall of between £2 million and £3.5 million in 2020/21, due to COVID. It's healthy £12.7 million reserves will help cushion the costs, however.

Cllr Barry O'Leary, Portfolio Holder for Enterprise and Finance, said: "We've comfortable reserves, but will always be prudent, and we will always plan for the future. So we're bracing ourselves for losses in service income, council tax and business rates. The impact on future budgets, and the financial implications for Mendip, will no doubt be felt for a number of years.

"However we are rightly-proud of our response to the crisis. We have been there for our Mendip communities and our local business owners, and we will continue to support them as we all recover, and we all work to build back better, post-pandemic."