WARRINGTON Borough Council faces a £35 million funding shortfall as it calls on the Government to reimburse it for coronavirus costs.

In March, the Government announced £1.6 billion of funding for local authorities to help them respond to mounting pressures across the services they deliver.

A further £1.6 billion for councils in England was announced in April.

The amount of emergency funding earmarked for Warrington totals more than £11 million.

But in a recent e-mail to borough councillors, seen by the Warrington Guardian, council leader Cllr Russ Bowden said the Labour-run authority could be left £35 million short of funding due to Covid-19 – if the Government does not ‘seriously address’ the situation.

He raised concerns over local authorities having to issue Section 114 notices if it failed to do so.

Cllr Bowden, who has written to the Prime Minister over funding support, added that even with a further £10 billion for local authorities, it would still leave Warrington ‘some way short’.

If issued by a council, a Section 114 notice bans all non-essential expenditure.

It is a formal admission that an authority cannot meet its current expenditure – and would stop all spending apart from on statutory services, such as social services.

Council chief executive Steven Broomhead says the Town Hall is waiting for ‘further clarification’ over funding from the Government.

Responding to the fears over the cash shortfall, Conservative Warrington South MP Andy Carter said the settlement for all councils this year was the ‘most generous’ of the last decade.

“The Government has allocated an additional £3.2 billion for local authorities,” he added.

“In Warrington, the council have already received an additional £11 million and ministers have said no council will be out of pocket for the cost of services they are required to provide in response to coronavirus, such as extra provision for rough sleepers and shielding people who are extremely clinically vulnerable.

“I am concerned about the impact on Warrington Council services because of the commercial investments and aggressive borrowings of more than £1.3 billion by the council to fund all kinds of purchases made over the last five years.

“The massive downside of a sharp contraction in the economy may mean their risky investments will deliver far less than anticipated, which could end up costing Warrington taxpayers heavily, as many had warned.”