BARNSLEY Council is in a better financial position than other authorities but its level of borrowing is significantly higher than most, according to auditors.

The authority’s finances were scrutinised at Wednesday’s meeting of the audit and governance board, where a report revealed - shortly after cabinet members agreed a balanced budget for the year ahead - it has usable reserves totalling £273.4m.

In the current financial year, due to end next month, the council identified a need for £7.2m savings to effectively break even.

Covid has, according to the audit report, resulted in £44.6m in additional costs and lost income, counteracted by £39.6m from the government and underspends in non-critical services.

Auditors said long-term borrowing is almost three-and-a-half times the council’s net cost of services, a ‘relatively higher’ proportion that ranks fifth among 33 other local authorities.

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The report puts this down to the ongoing town centre Glass Works regeneration project.