THE huge impact of the Covid pandemic in Stockton has sparked fresh calls for the Government to fill a £6m black hole in council finances. 

Battling coronavirus has cost Stockton Council £17m so far – but officials say only £11m in emergency grants has been received to foot the bill.

Lost income from leisure centre closures, lost parking charges and extra care home fees will see the authority reach into its reserves next week to plug the £6m budget gap. 

Council reports show £4m has been lost in income – with much less money coming in from rents, licensing and planning.

The stark breakdown of costs ahead of next week’s cabinet meeting also shows a £4m adult social care bill, £3.5m costs for children in care, and an extra £1m to continue weekly bin collections during the lockdown. 

The Government gave Stockton £11m in funding to cope with “direct Covid pressures” as the crisis worsened. 

It has also rolled out measures to cover “75p in every pound lost” where losses are more than 5 per cent of a council’s planned income from sales, fees and charges.

Officials say this extra money is being analysed – but still don’t believe it will be enough to cover Covid costs. 

Council leader Bob Cook said the authority had “stood up to be counted” since the start of the crisis.

He listed off the help it had offered to volunteers who’d delivered food parcels and medicine, the help it had offered schools, and the work it had done to send out business grants. 

The Labour leader added: “We maintained weekly bin collections and recycling services throughout.

“We’ve led the local public health response and have done everything we possibly can to support vital public health messaging.

“Yet now we’re looking at a £17m budget gap and have only been allocated £11m from the Government towards it.

“It’s nowhere near enough.

“The Government made a pledge that councils would be given the resources they need to meet this challenge. They need to honour that pledge.”

Cabinet members will meet next week to sign off using council reserves to fill the financial hole. 

The measures come after a decade which has seen £73m slashed from the authority’s budget.