THE impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has blown a £73 million hole in Fife Council's finances.

And councillors have been told that attempts to find the money to cover the costs are short by £11m.

Eileen Rowand, the council's executive director of finance and corporate services, said: “The response to the pandemic continues to impact on costs and loss of income is likely to continue in the medium-term.

“The financial consequences are continually being evaluated and are now estimated to be in the region of £73m for the 2020/21 financial year."

While this is a £3m improvement from November's estimate, she added: "At present, the funding options available are not sufficient to mitigate all pressures in the current financial year.

"It is anticipated there will be a shortfall of £11m which is slightly above the agreed strategy of using up to £10m of funding from balances."

Funding options, a mix of council and Scottish Government money, totals £62m and extra cash is anticipated but the move into lockdown on January 4 and further restrictions will "place further pressure" on the local authority's financial position.

At the policy and co-ordination committee last week, Ms Rowand said they were expecting more money from the Loss of Income Scheme – provisionally, they were given just under £4.6m from Holyrood – to help cover costs for services such as free school meals.

There are also a number of "one-off adjustments", with potentially up to £10m to help in areas such as housing benefit and council tax, that should ease the pressure.

She added: "However, it is clear that the quantum of funding available for loss of income across Scotland is unlikely to cover the full extent of income lost over the year and on this basis, negotiation and dialogue will continue between Cosla, the Scottish Government and the UK Government in relation to the consequentials that will be passed to councils."

One of the biggest blows has come in the construction sector, with the council facing a loss of £20.4m in building services income as work ground to a halt during lockdown last year.

The arms-length organisations that run services such as sports centres and theatres on the council's behalf, including Fife Sports and Leisure Trust, Fife Cultural Trust and Fife Coast and Countryside Trust, are facing a loss of income of more than £4.2m as they've been unable to operate and generate money.

Income from village halls, community centres and community-use schools is expected to fall by £2.3m and there's a £1.8m hit in lost parking fees due to a drop in demand and the introduction of free parking between April and August.

The council also spent £1.5m on home-working equipment, to ensure services could be delivered by staff remotely, while costs have risen in the contact centre due to the amount of overtime staff are working.

There's an "under-recovery" of £2.5m in council tax and Ms Rowand said the council would achieve only 58 per cent of the savings they anticipated making in the 2020-21 budget.

Even the money they make from wedding bookings is down by more than £200,000 and there's a hike of £180,000 due to greater use of employee counselling and occupational health services.