BALANCING the books has been an ‘absolute bloody miracle’ after a tumultuous year for finances, Barnsley Council’s leader said.

A finance report, introduced by Coun Robin Franklin at Wednesday’s cabinet meeting, revealed the council’s operational overspend for the last financial year was £3.1m - far less than anticipated due to austerity and the coronavirus pandemic.

Leader Sir Steve Houghton said: “Given what the council has been through with austerity, balancing the books is not ordinary - it’s an absolute bloody miracle in some cases.

“To do the same after 12 months of Covid is an incredible achievement.”

A breakdown of figures in the report shows the cost of responding to the pandemic in Barnsley stands at £44.53m - £33.2m in expenditure and more than £11m in lost income.