Bedford Borough Council has broadly welcomed the new support package announced by Local Government Secretary, Robert Jenrick, but has warned that it will not be sufficient to plug the funding gap left by coronavirus.
Yesterday (Thursday), Mr Jenrick announced councils in England will now receive a further un-ringfenced £500m to respond to spending pressures they are facing and to ensure councils’ financial sustainability for the future.
It has not been ringfenced in order to give councils autonomy in how best to meet the pressures in their local area.
“Councils are playing a huge part in supporting their communities during this pandemic,” said Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick MP.
“From supporting the most vulnerable and keeping vital services running to operating local track and trace, council workers have been at the forefront of this great national effort and are the unsung heroes of this pandemic.”
Local authorities have seen an unprecedented impact on their income from car parks, museums and other cultural assets. In response, the Government is introducing a scheme to compensate them for these losses.
This means that all relevant losses, over and above the first 5 per cent of planned income from sales, fees and charges, will be compensated for at a rate of 75p in every pound.
This balances the need to provide compensation given the scale of the income losses, encouraging councils to manage and minimise loss where they can and giving them the certainty they need.
Responding to the cash injection, a Borough Council spokesperson said, “While we welcome the extra support from the Government, £500million is not a lot of funding when split between all the councils across the country, given the scale of the financial challenge.
“We also welcome the partial support for lost income from fees and charges, but again this falls far short of the total impact of lost income when you look across all areas of the council.
“We are waiting for further details of the distribution of this funding, but it is clear that it will not be sufficient to close the significant funding gap that we face.”