Dumfries and Galloway Council could have to chop more than £30 million from its budget over the next three years.

Members are being warned it is “essential” that work begins as soon as possible to tackle the potential shortfall.

The figures are outlined in a report for next week’s full council meeting, with finance and accounting manager Gillian Ross due to give a report on developing the budget process for the next financial year.

The method for the current year was “significantly revised” due to the coronavirus pandemic, with local authorities given the chance to call a temporary halt to finding “significant recurring savings”.

But Ms Ross warns it is expected that “local government will face a return to requiring to significantly reduce spending” while meeting increased service demands.

The ongoing impact of Covid-19 creates “significant uncertainty” when setting budgets, with other issues including pay rises and the Scottish Government’s funding settlement.

Ms Ross will present members with three scenarios for 2022/23, with the best case seeing an £8.1 million shortfall.

And the direst scenario would see a £17.1 million hole in council finances.

One way of tackling that would be raising council tax by three per cent, which would generate £2.2 million.

Ms Ross says these estimates are for year on year reductions, meaning “the savings requirement for the upcoming three year period could therefore be estimated at £30-£35 million”.

The local authority would ordinarily set its budget for three financial years, however this year it was only set for 2021/22 due to the pandemic.

Ms Ross says it is “appropriate” that next year’s budget covers a three year period.

And she adds that the “extent of the estimated financial challenge” makes it essential for the council to take early steps towards tackling the problem.

That will include taking another look at savings proposals previously presented to councillors, although Ms Ross warns it is “highly likely” further measures will need to be found.

Councillors will meet to discuss the report on Thursday.