Powys Council has set aside almost £3 million to help it cover the financial problems created by the coronavirus.

At a meeting on Tuesday, June 16, cabinet members were told that at the authority ended the 2019/20 financial year  £1.46million inside budget, with shortfalls in some departments offset by underspending in others.

And the authority's portfolio holders heard that the shortfall had helped the council bolster its reserves, adding resilience in the face of the major financial impact of the coronavirus lockdown.

Finance portfolio holder Councillor Aled Davies (Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochant & Llansilin – Conservative) said: “The end of the financial year coincided with the beginning of the pandemic and the council had to quickly respond to the challenges it then faced.

“In order to add resilience to our planning, the use and holding of our reserves was a key part of the assessment.

“This approach has enabled us to increase the level of usable reserves to provide greater flexibility to support the financial position should this be needed.”

On April 1, 2019, the council's reserves stood at £27.8 million, with just over £9 million held in the general reserve fund and almost £18million in specific ring fenced reserves.

A year later this had increased by £2.8million to £29.85million.

Cllr Davies also said that the first claim to The Welsh Government’s Covid-19 Hardship Fund for costs of £33,698 incurred in March had been submitted.

Monthly claims will continue to be submitted during the pandemic.

Head of finance Jane Thomas added: “As we close the old financial year it was absolutely critical that we shored up our reserves as best we could to give us the flexibility needed going in to the new financial year and that’s what we have done as much as possible.”

Ms Thomas added: “There are still ongoing discussions through the Welsh Local Government Association and the Welsh Government about the support they may be able to offer all authorities across Wales.

“Further support is going to be essential for the authority to be able to live within it’s financial means.”

Council leader Councillor Rosemarie Harris (Llangynidr – Independent) said: “I would like to thank Aled and Jane and all the finance team for all the work that has been done.”

The cabinet noted and approved the report.