Will Government promises resemble Mary Berry’s pie crusts – easily broken? Or does ‘Your Waverley’ and Surrey County Council’s having nothing to fear for its future finances?
Speaking at the Daily Press Conference in May Communities Minister Robert Jenrick congratulated his Government on the money handed to local councils.
A journalist said although Birmingham City Council had already received £250m – like other councils across the country its services including car parks, children’s services and leisure centres had been badly impacted by the coronavirus epidemic. He claimed if the Government didn’t match its words with actions, all these services would be compromised.
In response, Mr Jenrick said:
“let me be very clear to all council leaders across the country. We will stand behind them and ensure they will have the resources that they need to carry out the absolutely critical functions they are playing in the national response to the CV. That was the promise that I made to council leaders, as did the Prime Minister early in the life of the emergency.”
We have already provided 3.2 billion of additional resources to councils in just the last two months. We are providing a further £4billion of cash-flow precisely so that they should not have to face the difficult choice that you describe responding to the virus in their communities and for the very important public services – like refuse collection and services to vulnerable children in their communities.
In the West Midlands, local councils will receive £374m to deal with the pressures of the CV, and that comes on top of a very generous settlement at the beginning of the Financial Year which has already increased its spending power by over £300m.
If further resources are required to meet the CV related costs we have asked councils to bear, then obviously we will take that into consideration in the near future. I have been working closely with local council leaders and the Mayor of the West Midlands, who is doing a fantastic job in leading the community forward during this very difficult time.”
Patrick ~Journalist: The key issue here S of S is to make sure the extra support gets through to ALL the local authorities immediately. Take Shropshire as an example. It says that the money it has received does not cover the costs it has incurred and Shrewsbury TC has been saying that money is not filtering down to them and they are the closest to the communities that actually need the help!
Robert Jenrick: “Firstly, in terms of ensuring their residents get what they need. “We are absolutely committed to doing that. Councils are receiving more money, so far, than they reported to us that they need to meet the COVID related costs. They are also seeing a significant reduction in their income because nobody is using car parks and leisure centres. That is a separate issue that we are focusing on.
Of the £1.6m that we gave we are making sure that a significant amount did flow down to the lower tier councils so that your average district council in England will now receive in the coming days a futher£1m or more in grants to help them with their expenditure and also to stabilise their finances.
We have also asked that parish councils should speak to their principal councils who have received that £1m if they need more funding so that the money flows down if they are under financial pressure. We have to get through this together.”