MONMOUTHSHIRE County Council (MCC) leader Peter Fox has reiterated calls for the Welsh Government to cover the costs of the coronavirus pandemic.

Cllr Fox says the stripping back of services by the UK and Welsh governments has put serious financial pressure on the council “resulting in significant shortfalls in income levels”.

The council is predicting a £10.37m overspend by the end of the year. £5.71m of this is thought to be income losses as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic, while non-Covid pressures could lead to a £3.54m deficit.

Cllr Fox has expanded on warnings made last Thursday at full council, where he said: “In my 23 years here in MCC, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a position that has caused me so much anxiety as this one does now.

“My grave concern is that the pressures we’ve identified, not all of them will be refunded and that will leave us in a very difficult situation.”

Cllr Fox says the council has felt the biggest impact of the pandemic on its leisure and cultural services, as well as car parking income.

A report on the financial impact of the pandemic says the Cabinet is continuing to make strong representations to the Welsh Government for full reimbursement of £6.83m.

“We are grateful to the Welsh Government for the funding that has been provided to councils to cover the costs to date”, Cllr Fox said.

“The council’s cabinet continues to make strong representations to the Welsh Government for full reimbursement of all Covid-related costs and income shortfalls.

“That would leave the council with a sum of £3.54m to address as a true in-year pressure and based on current forecasts."

An in-year budget recovery plan to address the forecast overspend of £3.54m is to be drawn up for Cabinet consideration in September, but there is no confirmation as yet that this will be the true figure.

The council report says the council requires more clarity over how much funding it will receive from the Welsh Government, and whether there will be flexibilities on repayments.

The Leader of the council’s Labour group Dimitri Batrouni accused the Cabinet of lavishly overspending prior to Storm Ciara, Storm Dennis and the coronavirus pandemic.

“They spent the money when the sun was shining and now have no money for the rainy day,” he said.

“This is poor financial management from a very complacent leader.”

A Welsh Government spokeswoman said: “We are supporting local authorities in meeting the additional costs and lost income related to the pandemic.

"We have provided local authorities with an extra £43m to date – this includes paying Monmouthshire’s claim for additional costs until May. We are currently processing claims for June.”