Harrow Council still expects to be “tens of millions of pounds” short on its budget due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Cllr Adam Swersky, who is responsible for finance and emergency response at Harrow Council, said additional costs and a loss of income meant it was facing a hit of around £44 million.

The council has received just over £13 million in financial support from the Government, and is expecting further payments, but Cllr Swersky is unconvinced it will be enough to cover everything.

“Covid-19 has blown our budget out the water,” he said.

“And the support we’ve been given is nothing like what we need to close that gap – we still expect to be tens of millions adrift.”

He explained that the pandemic has thrown up several increased pressures, including a share of additional mortuary costs across London at £650,000, and a loss of £1 million funding to support travel for under 18s following the Transport for London bailout.

The council has also spent a further £1 million on adult social care since its last financial submission in May, while additional cleaning and health and safety measures at the civic centre cost £500,000.

Cllr Swersky added that job losses and wage cuts in the borough meant it was expecting an additional 2,500 applications for council tax support.

The current administration in Harrow was also critical of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s ‘mini statement’ presented on Wednesday (July 8).

Mr Sunak outlined a series of measures aimed at revitalising the economy, including a cut on VAT in the hospitality sector to five per cent, an increase in the stamp duty threshold to £500,000 and a youth employment package of £2 billion.

However, Cllr Graham Henson, leader of Harrow Council, called it “woefully inadequate” since he felt it ignored key issues such as local government funding and additional health measures.

And Cllr Swersky said it was important to realise that “unlike Mr Sunak”, the council cannot simply “borrow from the Bank of England printing presses”.

He also urged the Government to “trust” local authorities as delivery partners following their work in the crisis, provided they are adequately funded.

“We’ve shown that we can get things done – but we also need to be able to pay for it,” he said.