Mayor of Bedford, Dave Hodgson, has welcomed additional funding promised by the Government to support local authorities in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
It is not yet clear how much of the government’s £1.6bn cash injection will be allocated to Bedford Borough Council.
In response to the package promised to local authorities, Mayor Dave said, “This extra funding to cope with the impact of coronavirus is very welcome. Our services are under huge pressure, working to deliver care for the vulnerable and elderly, and keeping vital day-to-day operations running.”
The government have pledged the funding to help councils continue to provide essential services and support to those who need it most.
This includes getting rough sleepers off the street, supporting new shielding programmes for clinically extremely vulnerable people and assistance for public health workforce and fire and rescue services.
The funding will also mean councils can provide vital services including adult social care and children’s services.
Robert Jenrick MP has written to all councils in England to thank them for their continued efforts as they work around the clock to support their residents.
In his letter, the Local Government Secretary called them the “unsung heroes” of the coronavirus response who are helping to keep the country moving by ensuring vulnerable people receive the care they need and essential services continue.
Councils will also be allowed to defer £2.6 billion in payments to central Government, and £850 million in social care grants will be paid up front this month in a move aimed at helping to ease immediate pressures on local authority cash flows.
Mayor Dave Hodgson said, “Alongside councils across the country, we have moved quickly to provide support to those who need it at this challenging time; setting up a Community Hub, creating and delivering food parcels, a prescription delivery service and providing support for those who may be feeling lonely.
“We have also had to make changes to day-to-day operations to ensure our staff can keep delivering vital services while staying safe, for example we have taken on extra staff to ensure that we can continue to collect household waste and recycling while enabling our crews to operate safely.
“This unprecedented coronavirus crisis has placed a huge financial strain on local authorities across the country. As a Council we are expecting the costs to be much higher than the extra funding we have been given so far, and the impact of this to be with us into next year and beyond.”
Responding to the announcement, Bedford & Kempston MP, Mohammad Yasin said, “I am relieved that the Government has recognised that the initial funding for councils to deal with the biggest public health crisis in a century was totally insufficient.
“The pressures facing Bedford Borough are unprecedented and I commend the efforts of our council staff who have been working flat out to support our community through this crisis.
“The Government assures us that councils will get all the resources they will need to cope with this pandemic but the exact funding for Bedford is not yet known whilst the costs of social care, personal protective equipment, housing rough sleepers, supporting business and providing support to vulnerable “shielded” residents continues to spiral.
“Local Government will lead the way in helping our communities and businesses back on to their feet so the financial situation for councils must be kept under review.”