COVID-19 has cost Trafford Council a massive £45.5m so far and has created a ‘sizeable’ budget gap for next year, bosses say.

The financial impact of the pandemic has been substantial for local authorities up and down the country and Trafford is no exception.

The authority is looking at a potential budget gap next year of £35.1m after factoring in business as usual pressures, estimated to be around £19.2m alone, and the impact of coronavirus.

Cllr Tom Ross, Trafford Council’s executive member for finance, revealed the authority’s latest estimates for its financial position, which take into account all pressures it currently and will potentially face.

So far this financial year, Covid-19 has already cost the council a gross total of £45.5m, which has largely been plugged through use of council reserve savings, government grants and other tweaks within the council’s budget.

But even with these contributions, the pandemic has still left the council with an £8.3m funding gap this year.

Cllr Ross said: “The gap that we have to bridge next year is huge. That’s assuming that there is no second wave. Actually things may get a lot worse this year, we don’t know yet, but that’s my feeling.

“There’s just been a huge demand shock, probably the biggest we’ve ever seen. Well, it is the biggest we’ve ever seen.

“If you look at how GDP collapsed this year, we’ve never lived through anything like this and it just reverberates through everything. It’s certainly hit this council and many other councils.

“The loss of function and the dividend from the airport, the fall in the collection of council tax as people unfortunately find themselves out of work because of the impact on the economy…

“It’s been a huge financial hit for the council and we’re not out of it yet, as we’ve seen from the health figures and from the restrictions today, which will have a further impact on the economy sadly.”

The council lost approximately £5.5m from the Manchester Airport dividend it usually receives each year.

To try and save money, the council launched a voluntary severance scheme for its workforce last month.

When pressed on whether this would lead to redundancies by Conservative Cllr Linda Blackburn, Cllr Ross said the council is not at that stage yet, but said it couldn’t be ruled out for the future.

Labour councillor Barry Whinstanley said: “The pressure you’re under is staggering, absolutely staggering. 

“I feel we’ve been somewhat abandoned by national government, I know we’re splurging millions on a national level, but I know local authorities of every stripe are screaming for help."