THE financial position in Powys is not as bleak as was thought a few months ago.

The 2020/21 second quarter balance sheet is to look stronger as financial support from the Welsh Government has been confirmed.

Powys County Council, head of finance, Jane Thomas, told councillors at a meeting of the Audit committee that the whole financial position has “moved” in recent weeks.

Her comments were made during a discussion of the PCC risk registers.

Audit committee chairman, Cllr John Morris (Crickhowell – Liberal Democrat) had noted that the risk that Covid-19 presented to the council’s finances had moved on the register from 25, which is deemed catastrophic, to 12 following work to lessen it’s impact.

Cllr Morris asked: “Are you quite content with that now?”

Ms Thomas, said:  “I think the whole area of our financial position has now moved as we’ve had more support coming in from the Welsh Government

“We’re about to finalise the July position, which will give us yet again another picture of what we’re projecting for the current financial year.”

She added that details on how the heads of services would manage their budgets would soon be available, and that Welsh Government funding on some issues had been confirmed.

Ms Thomas added: “We weren’t clear at the start what income would be covered in terms of the loss we have suffered.

“It will be covered for the first two quarters of the year.”

She added that further meetings between the Welsh Government and the WLGA (Welsh Local Government Association) and Welsh Treasurers would take place.

In these meetings more information would be given on the future financial settlements Welsh local authorities can expect to receive for next year.

Ms Thomas, said: “At the outset at the pandemic our very first report was very bleak , but things have moved and changed and we are in a far better position.”

Cllr Morris said that at a meeting of the Finance Panel  in July, Cllr David Thomas, believed that use of financial reserves should be made

Cllr Morris said: “We are in unique times, the thought was we keep them for a rainy day, we’ve had thunderstorms.”

“In the controls or actions there’s no mention of the use of reserves.

“I’m just wondering if you should put it in as an option?”

Ms Thomas answered that it was referenced in reports to Cabinet.

“How much services will be able to mitigate themselves will form a key part of the discussion in any potential use of reserves to see us through this year,” said Ms Thomas

Cllr Tim van Rees (Independent – Llanwrtyd) urged caution on using reserves in case there was, “something worse around the corner.”

The finance report for April – June 2020/21 shows the reserves stood at just over £32.5 million on April 1, with around £23 million available to be used.

At the July Cabinet meeting, it was estimated that PCC would face a £13 million deficit by the end of March 2021.