CRAVEN District Council looks set to be one of the hardest hit local authorities in the country due to lost income - already at around £900,00 and still rising - during the coronavirus pandemic.

The figures from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy’s resilience index show that Craven is more likely to suffer from a loss of income such as parking and leisure than almost any other council.

Only South Norfolk District Council and Woking Borough Council are predicted to suffer on a greater scale., according to the index.

Councillor Richard Foster, leader of Craven District Council, who at the start of last weekend appeared on BBC national news talking about the problems facing the council and on changes to the Government’s ‘stay at home’ message said it was not surprising that a council that relies on tourism would be one of the worst to suffer during the lockdown.

“The Government has encouraged local authorities to generate a high percentage of their income locally. Our success in this has meant that in the past we have been at low risk of financial difficulties.

“However, this means that during lockdown, with no income from our leisure centre, car parks and development projects, there has been a major impact on our finances.”

He added:“It’s hardly surprising that as a rural district which relies on tourism, we are one of the worst hit authorities. The funding we have received so far from the Government does not cover the financial losses we are experiencing – over £400,000 a month in income. We know the Government is monitoring local authority finances and we will be pressing for more support.”

But, he said, even though the council is suffering a loss in income, it was determined to continue serving residents, such as waste collection and helping communities through the coronavirus.

“We have continued all our waste collection services during the crisis, including garden waste collections. Our bereavement services team has continued to ensure that close family members can attend funeral services, and our revenues and benefits department has worked incredibly hard to process and pay out more than £18 million in grants to local businesses in the last month,” he said.

“Council staff and councillors have also been redeployed and volunteering to support community groups and food banks in helping our most vulnerable residents.

“District councils have been the most severely affected by cuts in Government funding over the last 10 years, and we have already made huge savings during this period and been innovative in generating income to keep services running. However, the current unprecedented situation means that our financial plans will have to be redrawn and difficult decisions taken to ensure we remain financially sustainable over the medium term.”

The CIPFA figures show that Craven District Council has a 51.16 ratio of fees and charges to services expenditure; South Norfolk District Council has a 64.73 per cent ratio, and Woking Borough Council has 70.32 per cent.