CORONAVIRUS has been having a major impact on Clackmannanshire Council's ability to deliver a range of work across the community.

Councillors at last week's Audit Committee heard how there is a forecast underspend of around £2.1million within the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) capital programme.

This is combined with a forecasted revenue surplus of £1.3m over the originally budgeted surplus in HRA with the capital programme including window and kitchen replacement programmes, asbestos removal and more.

At the virtual meeting last Thursday, December 3, Councillor Darren Lee asked council officers if the local authority was aware of the negative impacts.

Also highlighting other areas from the General Fund capital programme, he said: “There's underspends on grants, you look into the details there's underspends on roads and land management etc.

“As a council, are we aware of the negative impact that these underspends are having on these areas and the impact it's having on the community?”

Replying, council officers said: “Clearly, it's just stating the obvious in terms of the impact that Covid has made – certainly in the first six months of the year; we've been focusing on essential services.

“As things relaxed in the late part of the summer, we were able to pick up some of our capital programme as well as delivering a wider range of revenue services.

“So, those things have impacted on our ability to do work, we've managed to accelerate some of the programmes or we are planning to accelerate some of the programmes for the second half of the [financial] year.

“Some of our contractors are doubling up workforce for example to catch up.”

However, some difficulties will remain as long as coronavirus is around.

The council officer added: “But the kitchens and bathrooms – it's just too difficult to do that under the current circumstances so that isn't going to achieve.

“That's a rolling programme so we'll just roll it through into future years.”

Turning back to roads and land management, Cllr Lee pressed further, saying there were already issues last year in “getting things done”.

He said: “I see that just rolled on in this paper as well, quite a significant underspend in some of the roads projects.

“I am aware, Covid obviously does have an impact – I'm not naïve in that.

“But that's quite a hot topic raised to me by constituents.”

The council officer said: “The team are confident that in the second half of the year we'll be recovering our capital plan.

“In the outturns we were predicting a full year spend on everything apart from the parking project, which we agreed to back for obvious reasons.”

Cllr Lee later proposed the paper, saying the savings achieved, 87.3 per cent of an around £3.3m programme, were “absolutely excellent”.

He added the council needed to be “proactive” and “getting ahead where we should be spending on our communities”.