Redbridge Council responds to Government’s additional funding package
Published: 2 July 2020
The Government today (2 July) announced additional measures to manage the financial impact of the pandemic, including a new funding package to support councils. Whilst it is welcome, it is highly unlikely to prove sufficient to cover the gap in funding the council faces as a result of the ongoing pandemic. The council’s latest forecast (made before this announcement) shows a potential £45m funding gap for 2020/21.
Cllr Jas Athwal, Leader of Redbridge Council, said:
“We welcome the government’s recognition of the work we do but it must avoid providing piecemeal funding in dribs and drabs. Local people and their councils deserve sustainable funding agreements over successive years so we can plan for the best possible future for Redbridge.
“In just a few days, thousands signed our petition asking the government to repay the funds promised to the people of Redbridge as we managed the impact of Covid-19. I would urge the government to keep their word and honour that promise to local people. The funding we’re asking to be paid back is critical to continue delivering services which can be the difference between life and death in the middle of a pandemic.
“When our residents clapped on Thursdays for NHS workers, they also clapped for council workers who are working hard to make a difference in this time of crises. Now is not the time to force councils to cut essential services but to give us the promised funding which will help us support residents through any recession or further outbreak that may come.”
The Government’s previous announcement to also allow councils to postpone business rates payments to central government and its move to pay care grants up front will help councils with some of their immediate cash-flow pressures, but won’t replace the funding gap that would ensure planning for local services.
The LGA (which represents councils in England) estimates the financial challenge faced by councils will reach £7.2bn this year. After today’s announcement, government funding will rise to £4.3bn nationally. This still leaves a potential funding gap of £2.9bn across the country.
Full details of the funding package can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/comprehensive-new-funding-package-for-councils-to-help-address-coronavirus-pressures-and-cover-lost-income-during-the-pandemic