SERVICES could be cut as the cost of the coronavirus pandemic is laid bare today.

Blackburn with Darwen Council is facing a £16million hole in its finances, and Lancashire County Council is looking at a £48m shortfall. This is despite emergency ‘covid’ funding from the Government.

Now Blackburn with Darwen Council has admitted it may have to cut all but essential ‘statutory’ services.

The figures were revealed as an investigation found that some councils across the country say they will effectively have to declare themselves bankrupt unless more funding is forthcoming.

Nearly nine out of 10 local authorities face budget deficits as a result of the coronavirus.

Councils face increased costs from supporting vulnerable people, while their income from fees and rates is falling.

Lancashire County Council said it would not reach a position in which it would need to file an S114 notice ­— effectively declaring themselves bankrupt.

Blackburn with Darwen, however, did not respond to the question with a ‘no, yes or possible’ when asked.

When asked how it plans to meet the deficit, the council ­—which has received £9.3 million emergency cash from the Government ­— warned that services would be axed.

Blackburn with Darwen Council said: “At this point we do expect that government will make further funding available to local government to cover the additional costs incurred, and income losses sustained, as a result of covid.

“If no funding is forthcoming from Central Government, then we would have little choice other than to revert to statutory services only. However although that would reduce future costs, the costs of implementing the cessation of all other services would be more than the council could afford to pay.”

Lancashire County Council said it would use reserves to address any shortfall.

Angie Ridgwell, chief executive of Lancashire County Council, said: “There are clearly significant costs for the county council in dealing with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and continuing to support people in Lancashire a £48 million shortfall.

“We have been given £56m of additional emergency funding. But in mid-May, we reported to them that we forecast a total cost for this financial year of £104m.

“We would need to utilise reserves to support any final shortfall.We are waiting for Government announcements on the spending review to determine the extent of our financial challenge for 2021/22, which will directly impact on the proposals that we will need to consider as part of setting the budget to fund our services for people in Lancashire.”

Minister for Local Government Simon Clarke MP said: “We’re giving councils an unprecedented package of support, including £3.2billion non-ringfenced emergency funding, to tackle the pressures they have told us they’re facing.

“This is part of a wider package of support from across government for local communities and businesses – totalling over £27 billion - including grants, business rate relief and for local transport.

“We are working on a comprehensive plan to ensure councils’ financial sustainability.”