NO new financial commitments will be made by BCP Council until the local authority can deliver a balanced budget for next year.

“A material funding gap” is the stark reality facing members of a key scrutiny committee next week, after a much-awaited report on the current financial situation facing the council.

It comes after the council’s major plans to sell-off the area’s beach huts to fund £50million worth of transformation were torpedoed by the government in a dramatic intervention earlier this month.

Now, a meeting set to follow a reconvened beach huts meeting on September 2, will discuss the funding gap and alternatives facing the council “as a matter of urgency”.

The finance update was published on Friday, after being held at the leader of the council, Cllr Drew Mellor’s “specific request” as he had apparently been unavailable to endorse the content.

It transpires from an email seen by the Daily Echo, that he had been on holiday.

Following the collapse of the council’s failed beach hut sell-off, the authority has asked for £76million of support from the government.

If the government were to grant this request, the council could have to undergo an external finance review, a look at the governance arrangements and commit to repay the loan over a 20-year period.

Civil servants from the Department for Levelling Up have also indicated that the Treasury will be considering whether the council has taken all opportunities to better position its financial sustainability.

In his report to members, chief finance officer, Adam Richens said they were operating in a “highly challenging environment”.

“As a council we have little financial resilience as the reserves are low and there is little room to manoeuvre.

“Risk has now crystallised around the beach hut income securitisation, and we are now seeking a capitalisation direction as an option to fund the transformation programme, which in itself carries risk and may come with constraints.”

Such is the importance of what needs to be done, monthly updates will be brought to cabinet until a balanced budget is delivered for 2023/24.

One of the recommendations says the council should aim to deliver a balanced budget from “traditional local government” processes and methods.

The council had been criticised by minister Greg Clark for attempting to use the special purchase vehicle for beach huts to do “dodgy deals”.

The report also hints at changes to services, with suggestion made that a list of “non-core assets” are drawn up which could be disposed of.

It adds: “Failure to take the necessary action to maintain a balanced budget and MFTP will inevitably lead to the requirement for the council to make significant savings in a short timescale.”

The report also touches on the impact the cost of living crisis is having on the council’s finances and the impact this will have on the medium term financial plan.