Aberdeenshire Council could soon be adjusting its budget to address a “financial crisis the likes of which we’ve never experienced before”, as it is expected to be £24 million out of balance by the end of the financial year.
Later this month, the authority will consider an update to its medium-term financial strategy to deal with the financial impact of Covid-19, which has resulted in a great deal of lost income, as well as additional expenditure.
The strategy will run until March 2022, reflecting the “scale of the challenge” facing the authority.
Council leader Jim Gifford said: “We’re spending way more than we budgeted for, our income for many things has dropped at the same time, so it’s the perfect storm.
“We’re taking a report to the council in about 10 days’ time with an update on the medium-term financial strategy, and that will lay out where we are and what we need to do.
“Because of the scale of the challenge we have, that will be spread over to March 2022, rather than dealing with it all this financial year, but even with that it’s a big hurdle to overcome.
“Even without Covid-19, we were looking north of £20 million of budget pressure every year for the next five years anyway, so we have to meld that into the discussions we’re having, and Covid-19 is adding to that in spades.
“The level of savings we’re having to make means that we’re having to look at absolutely everything and anything.”
Council deputy leader Peter Argyle added: “This situation is completely unprecedented and is undoubtedly a financial crisis the likes of which we’ve never experienced before.
“That doesn’t mean completely stopping things, but doing things in a more effective and efficient way, and working with communities far more closely than we have in the past.”
Mr Gifford added: “The council will always be able to provide services, I think the question that’s facing all of us is what those services will look like, and how they will be delivered.
“There’s somethings we cannot do without, like educating our young people, the question is how do we do it in the face of a declining budget and increasing demand.”