TWO 'exceptional' meetings to deal with Oxfordshire County Council's coronavirus money woes will be held in coming months.

The council will discuss its budget at two exceptional meetings: a cabinet meeting in August, and a full budget meeting in September.

The two meetings were discussed as the council's cabinet, its most senior councillors, met on Tuesday last week.

The cabinet discussed a financial monitoring report which gave an update on the extra spending which the council had made due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Oxfordshire County Council currently has a £24m budget shortfall: a combination of unexpected extra spending and loss of income.

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A report to the council said ‘very real concerns have been expressed’ by councils ‘that the funding provided so far is nowhere near enough to enable local authorities to sustain their response to the pandemic’.

There was acknowledgement during the meeting that an autumn statement by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak may honour the Government’s pledge to pay off all council Covid-related debts.

But the report added: “We await to hear when further funding will be provided, and whether this will be sufficient to meet our needs.”

Some of the areas where the most spending has taken place are children’s services and adult services.

Banbury Cake:

Oxfordshire’s councils have been out of pocket due to the coronavirus pandemic. Stock image

Both were already predicted to have a slight variation in spending in a range of a few million pounds, but both budgets are looking at an extra £11m and £14m spending respectively because of the pandemic.

The council has also spent extra money in other areas too, including £2m to buy PPE for council staff and care providers.

All of this spending, and loss of income from council car parks and fees originally added up to a £64m budget shortfall for the 2020-21 financial year, but this was reduced to £24m by two government grants.

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A further £3m funding has recently been given to Oxfordshire County Council by the Government, and a scheme to reimburse councils for their lost income due to Covid has been announced.

The scheme would reimburse councils with 75p for every pound lost due to the pandemic.

Details of how much money each council will be given have not yet been announced.

Cabinet member for finance, David Bartholomew stressed the meetings were 'exceptional' budget meetings rather than 'emergency' ones.

He said: "The reason I make that distinction is we as a council are meticulous in terms of our financial operation.

"Emergency indicates panic and thrashing around. We have a considered and measured response to the situation that is facing us."

A cabinet meeting is scheduled into the county council’s agenda for August 18; and a full council meeting is scheduled for September 8.