THE cost of the coronavirus pandemic on East Renfrewshire Council's budget is expected to "significantly exceed" current funding support.

Almost £1million has been awarded to East Renfrewshire from the Scottish Government's £50m hardship fund and council chiefs expect around £3m from the £155m Barnett consequentials now being shared out to local authorities.

Around £890,000 has been received from the Scottish Government for use by East Renfrewshire's Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP).

But a report reveals "the extra pressures faced by the council" are expected to rise beyond these funding allocations.

Additional costs, a reduction in income streams and the response to the pandemic will also prevent some of the council's planned 2020/21 savings from being implemented.

Councillors agreed a budget in February which plugged a deficit of around £17m. A report on the financial impact of the pandemic on the council is expected to be tabled at a meeting on June 24.

At budget time, the authority revealed almost £210m was to be spent on capital plans over the next 10 years, including almost £25m on six nurseries. 

Construction work has been suspended during lockdown and council officers are working with construction industry partners on when work will restart. 

The council remains committed to almost doubling the amount of free childcare available to families from August.

The report by the authority's chief executive, Lorraine McMillan, sets out the council's response to the pandemic and the impact on its resources.

Ms McMillan said: "Whilst these have been very challenging times for the council, our staff have been exceptional. 

"Many have worked significant extended hours to make sure residents are safe and well. Others have volunteered to go wherever they are needed.

"Some staff have children to care for and are managing to juggle the various demands of home learning with carrying out their job."

She added the work of care staff "must be particularly commended".

The care home sector has been badly hit by the coronavirus outbreak. 

Ms McMillan's report states the authority "put in place enhanced support to our care homes from the start of the pandemic" and has daily contact with managers to discuss the issues they are facing.

The council bought 16 beds in two care homes to "meet anticipated demand" and has used three so far. A spokesman said none of the residents were placed from hospital and all were tested, and found to be negative, for Covid-19 before being admitted.

East Renfrewshire's HSCP has been at the "front line" in the response to the outbreak and recently established a testing team to "undertake enhanced outbreak investigation in all care homes where there are cases of Covid-19".

All consenting residents and staff will be tested, whether or not they have symptoms.

A Community Assessment Centre for people concerned about Covid-19 symptoms has been set up in Eastwood Health and Care Centre for people referred by NHS 24. It has been seeing an average of 10 patients per day.