BOLTON Council will need to use an extra £9m of reserves to balance its budget – more than doubling what it had planned to use over two years.

The local authority had already budgeted for £8m of its reserves to be used as part of a two-year plan to plug a shortfall in its finances worth £31.5m.

The remaining £23.5m was set to be saved by cutting at least 124 jobs, raising council tax and stopping some of its services such as meals on wheels.

But borough treasurer Sue Johnson told a scrutiny committee on Monday that, in a worst-case scenario, £8.7m of these savings would not be achieved.

She said: “As we got into this financial year, we were halfway through a two-year budget strategy. We knew we still had savings to get out across the council.

“This is almost our worst-case scenario position. If the pandemic does not allow us to get our saving cuts coming out by the end of this financial year.

“To give members reassurance, that figure will definitely change.

“There is an enormous amount of work going on behind the scenes to get reports ready to reassess options to get those savings out.

“But in terms of the information that goes to government, that is a cash flow hit so our costs are still higher than they would have been had those savings not come out, hence it goes on the return.”

The council is expecting £13m of additional costs to the coronavirus crisis.

But the local authority is projecting income losses of £26.4m in total.

This includes a £3.7m fall in business rates revenue and £9.7m in council tax.

Miss Johnson also said that Manchester Airport, which the council is a minority shareholder of, will not pay any dividend this year or in the foreseeable future.

She added: “In addition to that, we have also made loans into the airport and for a short-term basis. They will also not be able to pay those yearly repayments to us. That is just a cash flow hit.

“Any repayment of loans will be repaid so we can accrue it in our accounts, so we just take the hit on cash flow for the short time that the airport is unable to pay that but obviously, the dividend is a longer term hit for us.”