DORSET Council is overspending its budget by more than £1million a week because of coronavirus.

The total overspend for the authority has been forecast at £60m resulting from additional costs and lost income.

The situation would have been worse had the council not received £21m from the Government to date. If it receives no additional financial help its anticipated shortfall for the current financial year could be £39million above the £304million revenue budget it set in April.

Said a council spokesman: “The picture is changing day by day. For instance, we are now incurring new additional costs for the return of more pupils to schools with social distancing measures in place e.g. additional transport required for transporting children with special educational needs to and from school.”

Despite the overspend the council does have between £23million and £28million in unallocated reserves it could draw on. The figure is not exact as some money from the reserves has been set aside for overpends in the last financial year, mainly in adult and children’s social services, the final accounts having not yet been settled.

The situation has been complicated further by a reworking of the inherited reserves from the predecessor councils. This involved the re-categorisation, or switching, of some allocated reserves into General Reserves.

The council says that despite the financial pressure is has no plans at the moment for an emergency budget.

“We are continuing to make our case clearly to government for further funding to cover the full budget overspend resulting from the COVID response, as Ministers promised at the start of the outbreak,” said a spokesman.

Council finance brief holder Cllr Tony Ferrari says that the Government response, so far, had been quick and helpful. He is anticipating that a further payment will be made shortly to Dorset Council, likely to be around £10million, although this has not been confirmed.

Unlike neighbouring Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council, Dorset has not furloughed any of its staff.