The coronavirus pandemic has left Watford Borough Council more than £2 million in the red, figures have shown.

Councils up and down the country have been hit hard by the pandemic, particularly due to lockdown restrictions, and government funding has not been enough to balance the books.

Figures show Watford Borough Council has lost a significant amount of money in income, while it has had also to spend money it had not budgeted for.

The latest accounts show the council has lost around £2.1 million.

This includes a loss of income of more than £2.4 million, broken up as:

  • £50,000 from pest control
  • £401,667 from parking
  • £344,000 waiver of leisure provider management fee costs
  • £200,000 community assets rents
  • £43,850 market rent
  • £65,556 delaying the garden waste charge
  • £159,000 in planning fees
  • £224,000 loss in rent from Citipark
  • £1.73 million in commercial rent

There has been additional expenditure as well such as spending £290,000 on housing rough sleepers for four months, building support costs to its leisure provider SLM of £150,000, PPE taxi screens cost £42,000 and other costs came to more than £100,000.

The council has received government funding of just over £1 million which has lowered the deficit, and it is waiting to see how much of a share of a further £500 million it will receive - it is unlikely to be anywhere near filling the £2.1 million deficit.

Last night, the council agreed to some budget changes to balance the books.

The council has also had to dip into its economic impact reserves, which supports the funding of unexpected or unplanned council expenditure. Council papers suggest £1 million of this reserve will be used by the council in the form of a Covid-19 Recovery Fund.

The mayor of Watford, Peter Taylor, said: "Due to careful planning over a number of years, Watford is in a much stronger position than many other councils.

"But since the outbreak of Covid-19, we have lost a significant amount of income and we have rightly had to increase our spending as we tackle Covid-19 and protect our community.

"The government has not yet set out how it plans to allocate the small pot of extra funding announced for local authorities. What is clear is that it is extremely unlikely to meet the gap created in our budget by the pandemic.

"We need more funding from the government so that we can provide essential services for local residents, support local businesses and make sure we keep people safe during this difficult time."