Coronavirus: Brighton and Hove's finances 'very vulnerable'

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A police van on Brighton beachImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Most visitors to Brighton and Hove have been social distancing on the beach

The coronavirus pandemic could cost Brighton and Hove City Council an estimated £50m, a report has found.

The study, for a special meeting of the council's policy and resources committee, said the authority is currently losing about £10m each month.

The council dipping into its reserves is "only a short term solution", it concluded.

Half of the monthly losses are being caused by a drop in visitor numbers and cancellations of major events.

Events including the Brighton Festival, the Fringe and Pride have been estimated to have contributed to direct losses for the council.

Image source, Eddie mitchell
Image caption,
Thousands of people attended Brighton Pride last year

The Liberal Democrats' party conference, which is due to take place at the Brighton Centre in October, is currently on hold.

Even the £150m revenue from council tax bills could not be taken for granted, the report said, taking into account the prospect of people falling into hardship.

The same was true for the £59m in business rates the authority had expected to receive in the current financial year.

'Very vulnerable'

The council is concerned that there may be a significant rise in the number of businesses closing or going bust, the Local Democracy Reporting Service has reported.

"This demonstrates that the council's finances are therefore very vulnerable in the current situation," the report said.

"The pandemic will see many fees and charges being severely impacted by closures (eg Royal Pavilion), or reduced business and visitor activity."

In the current financial year the council had expected to generate £110m in fees and charges but the report said: "All of these income and taxation sources are now very uncertain."

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