Wiltshire Council is on the brink of running out of money after revealing a £51m funding black hole.

The leader of Wiltshire Council, Coun Philip Whitehead, said that the government needs to make available more funds to local authorities or they could face bankruptcy.

Coun Whitehead told BBC Radio 4: “We’re just concentrating on getting through this year

“I’ve got some sympathy with the government because everyone is still calculating things in their own way and I think at some point we need to pull that together as organisation teams in terms of making sure we’re all on an absolutely clear and level playing field.

“So far, the government has given tranches of money, we just need more of them.

“We need more tranches of money to keep us going.”

The government has already issued £25.5m in tranches to Wiltshire Council, as well as £3.2m in hardship funding to provide council tax relief for vulnerable residents.

If Wiltshire Council cannot balance its book by the end of the next financial year, or if officers know that this cannot be done, the council’s section 151 officer will need to issue a section 114 notice.

This notice is effectively a declaration that the council has run out of money and that spending controls must be put in place to balance the budget.

Before the outbreak of coronavirus, the council was already tasked with filling a financial blackhole of £24.5m.

Facilities such as council-owned leisure centres, which would normally produce income for authorities, are closed due to Covid-19.

Additionally, this is the first month where the council will resume collecting council tax and business rates from residents and businesses who chose to defer payments for April and May.

According to the Local Government Association (LGA) councils will need another £6bn to cover the financial impact of coronavirus has had on budgets.

“So far there’s been £3.2bn given by government so the sums are fairly easy,” Cllr Whitehead added.

“Our focus as an organisation has been to firstly respond to the Covid-19 pandemic and now begin to move in to leading on Wiltshire’s recovery from the crisis we have all been facing since March.

“It is still too early to say for certain what the true financial impact to the council will be.

"However, with the level of funding support from central Government currently estimated at £29.8m, of which £0.4m has been allocated to cover costs incurred in the last financial year, a shortfall in our finances is forecast to be in the region of £50m, which is the equivalent to 15 per cent of our net budget.

“Cabinet recently agreed to revise our capital programme, originally agreed in February 2020, so that we focus our capital resources on the key investment projects during 2020/21 and align them with the upcoming recovery.

"Although there have been projects deferred into 2021/22, no project or scheme within the programme has been stopped or removed.

“We continue to speak to Government regularly about the council’s finances and the possibility of them allocating extra funding, and if any more does come to pass, then we will reassess our position.

"We have had internal discussions around the uncertainty and the triggers, implications and timing of a section 114 notice and are aware that this is a possibility, but at this stage we have not considered this course of action to be appropriate.

"Our expectation is that the Government will provide additional funding to us in respect of Covid-19.

“Due to the current lack of income generated from services and the additional money spent on Covid-19 so far, we are facing significant challenges ahead, but officers are working round the clock to mitigate the impact as much as possible.”