THE coronavirus crisis is set to cost Hampshire councils around £80m and the cost could go up, it has been revealed.

According to Hampshire County Council’s latest estimate, the authority will spend £68m in the 2020-21 financial year to respond and recover from the pandemic.

The authority says it does not need to prepare an emergency budget at this stage but cabinet members will consider a report on the financial impact of Covid-19 at a meeting next month.

The authority said its net revenue budget for 2020-21 is £795m and it expects its total usable reserves to be around £575m in 2019-20.

However, of this amount 96.1 per cent is earmarked for a specific purpose, the council said, with unallocated reserves standing at £22m.

Cllr Keith Mans, leader at the county council, said: “As anticipated, our response to the fast-moving Covid-19 pandemic is incurring additional costs for the County Council – which we continue to monitor, and we regularly report our financial forecasts to central Government.

"There will also be further costs and losses associated with the recovery phase of the crisis, such as increased demand for social care support, and efforts to restore the wellbeing of Hampshire’s communities and the economy. However, it is difficult to predict with absolute certainty the costs that we may face beyond the end of June, and our recovery and demand costs can only be speculative at this stage.

"We will be undertaking further work to explore the evolving financial picture in greater detail – in particular, as we emerge from lockdown over the coming weeks and months.”

As previously reported, last month county councillor Alan Dowden raised concerns over the future financial position of the county council after a report revealed that by the end of June the authority may have to foot a £96.2m bill.

The amount includes the estimated cost of the response until the end of June as well as savings the council had already planned to make.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has granted a total of £3.2 billion to councils in England over the past months.

The government said the funding will support councils through immediate pressures faced due to the pandemic.

A spokesperson for MHCLG said: “Hampshire County Council has received nearly £54m of the £3.2 billion to deal with the pressures of coronavirus, while its core spending power rose by over £55 million this financial year even before additional emergency funding was announced.

“The Government will continue to work closely with councils as the pandemic progresses and tackle the pressures they have told us they’re facing.”