The brutal impact of the pandemic on the retail and hospitality sector was laid bare after Bolton Council said it had raised £ 42.5million less than expected in business rate over the past year.
The council’s annual accounts for 2020/21 show it has received £ 232million in grants from the central government since the start of the pandemic.
Just over £ 40million of that figure was spent on further relief from commercial tariffs for the hospitality and retail sectors which received a tariff respite when the restrictions imposed by the government forced most to close at the end of March 2020 and again at the beginning of this year.
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The council’s initial budget, compiled before Covid-19 became a factor, gave an expected commercial tariff collection figure of £ 82.4million
The actual figure collected was £ 40million.
Even taking into account the government money to make up for this Bolton Council, there is still a shortfall of £ 2.5million from the budgeted amount.
There was less of an impact on the council’s tax revenue during the year, with the council budgeting for revenue of £ 116million and actually receiving £ 114.5million.
The combined effect of the two taxes’ deficit meant the council ended up with £ 3.5million less in its coffers than expected.
Presenting the annual accounts, the council’s deputy chief executive, Sue Johnson, said the council faces great uncertainty about whether revenue streams will resume from commercial rates.
She said: “It is clear that there remains considerable uncertainty regarding corporate rates and council tax revenues and this will continue to be watched closely.
“In 2020/21, the Chancellor announced in the budget that relief would be provided for recreation and hospitality.
“This further reduced our expected local collection of commercial tariffs by around £ 40million.
“The government in turn funded the councils through the payment of subsidies to make up for lost trade rates.
“In total, over £ 200million has been received by the council.”
The accounts also reveal that through central government funds, Bolton Council distributed £ 59million in business support grants, £ 24million in local restriction support grants and £ 3.4million. to residents through the council’s tax hardship fund.
During the year the council spent £ 63million on capital investment.
These projects included £ 9.7million of strategic investment at Manchester Airport, £ 3.4million of roundtrip parking, also at the airport, £ 5million on motorways and £ 9.6million on the city center strategy.