Hertfordshire County Council may need to consider "extensive" cuts to services next year, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, a leading councillor has warned – unless there is further funding from central government.

Since the start of the pandemic, the county council has been allocated £47m by central government, to cover additional costs associated with Covid-19.

But according to council estimates that funding is already £17m short of the £64m Covid-19 has cost the council, in additional costs and lost income.

At a meeting of the council’s cabinet on Monday, executive member of resources and performance Cllr Ralph Sangster suggested the financial impact on the county council could be even higher.

Conservative councillor Sangster told the cabinet the council was set to report ‘further cost escalation’ to the government this week.

In addition he said Covid-related costs associated with major engineering projects – such as the A120 and A602 – had now been assessed at £11m.

And, without additional government funding, he suggested those rising costs – teamed with the potential loss of council tax revenue – may mean the council will have to consider ‘extensive service reductions’ next year, in order to set a balanced budget.

He said: “Local government has also been highlighting to central government the potential loss of council tax revenue as households find themselves in difficulty and unable to meet their obligations,” he said.

“This factor could have a significant impact on the council’s ability to set a balanced budget next year without the potential for extensive service reductions.”

According to the report to the cabinet, indications are that the collection of council tax could fall by five per cent next year – which would generate a further £30m funding gap to the county council.

Cllr Sangster said councils – through the Local Government Association and the County Councils Network – had been in “constant communication” with government to highlight the financial situation they faced.

And he said: “It is essential central government remain fully aware of the sector’s situation and that the appropriate reassurances are forthcoming from government ministers that the financial plight of local government is understood and will be addressed.”

Nevertheless Cllr Sangster said the county council did not consider an ‘interim’ budget would be needed this year, although he said that he was “keeping the situation under review”.

And he told the cabinet Hertfordshire County Council was ‘better placed than most to see the crisis through’.

He said: “Although we are in the midst of a pandemic which has stretched the capacity of local government to adapt and support its community, Hertfordshire County Council is well placed to fulfil its responsibilities to its residents.

“Because of many years of prudent financial management and the sensible setting aside of adequate but not excessive reserves, this council is better placed than most to see this crisis through.”

Meanwhile, on Monday local government minister Simon Clarke told the House of Commons that the government was working on a ‘comprehesive plan to ensure councils’ financial sustainability over the financial year ahead’.

The minister gave the assurance in response to a question from Labour (Co-op) MP Kate Osamor.

In addition to the £47m that has been awarded to the council by the government to support its response to the Covid-19 pandemic, it has also received targeted grants of £13m to support care home infection control and £4.1m for local elements of the government’s ‘test and trace’ programme.