Services may never return to normal

TAMESIDE Council admits some of their services may never return back to the levels they were used before the Covid-19 pandemic.

As such, that means more money will be needed to fund them, with more ways of finding it being investigated.

The authority says it has about £6 million worth of ‘pressure’ to address in its finances as it seeks to balance the books.

Tameside Council
Tameside One

It is looking at renting out one floor of the Tameside One building in Ashton. It tried to for this financial year but did not, meaning a hole of about £300,000.

And finance director Kathy Roe told a meeting of Tameside’s Strategic Commissioning Board that while improvements have been made, they are not out of the woods.

She said: “We have to acknowledge it will take a while to return to our pre-pandemic levels for some of our services, if in fact they ever do or are able to return to those levels.

“We’re halfway through the year and things have steadily improved a little bit over the last month or two.

Cllr Oliver Ryan
“But we do need to have a bit of a warning sign around there.

“That’s largely due to pandemic-related funding being utilised to smooth out the cost still being incurred relating to Covid-19 on areas that will still need a little bit longer to reduce the extra costs being incurred due to the level of demand.

“There’s a movement in a positive direction, which is something we want to see but we mustn’t ignore the significant underlying pressure – more than £6 million that still needs to be addressed within our finances.

“We know this has improved but this one-off funding provides us with a short amount of time to put in place the transformation agenda which is focused on driving down those pressurised areas.

“There are some positive signs but we can’t get carried away, there’s a significant amount of work still to be done.”

The latest report as Tameside looks to save £9.4 million from its budget comes as many ways of saving – or cutting – items have been exhausted.

And Cllr Oliver Ryan, the council’s executive member for finance and economic growth, admitted: “We’re passed the stage now where its difficult to come up with savings proposals. We can’t continue to cut forever.

“There’ll always be core services that we need to supply and that means we’ve got to look at things like renting out buildings we own and things we wouldn’t have considered a few years ago.

“At the end of the day, we have to deliver a balanced budget for Tameside – the alternative is someone comes in and does it for us.”

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