Gedling Borough Council has today been given more than £1 million from a Government emergency fund to help ease the financial pressures of the Coronavirus pandemic – but leaders have today warned that more is needed to balance the books.
The government cash has come from a £1.6 billion central pot being shared between councils across England based on their population and the latest assessment of the challenges they are facing.
Gedling Borough Council has been given £1,178,385 from the latest allocation after receiving just £54,000 last month during the first round of funding.
In the letter they warned that ‘P45s may have to be given to our local heroes’ if more money wasn’t allocated to help the authority deal with a loss of income caused by the pandemic.
Today both councillors welcomed the government cash boost to their budget but said more still needed to be done to help balance the books – with today’s amount ‘only covering just six weeks of lost income’.
In a joint statement Cllrs John Clarke and Michael Payne said: “On March 19, Gedling Borough Council received just £54,182 of the Government’s £1.6 billion tranche of Covid-19 funding
“This amount covered barely 6% of one month’s cost of the Coronavirus outbreak. The Government told councils ‘spend what it takes’ to fight this virus and protect communities and promised ‘we’ll reimburse you’.
“On 17 April we wrote to the Prime Minister to urge him to ensure the Government kept to its promise to fully reimburse councils for the huge financial hit they’ve taken as a result of this pandemic. We set out the facts that Coronavirus was set to cost Gedling Borough Council £960,000 from additional costs and loss of income in one month alone.
“The cost of the virus on the council’s finances is now estimated to be £3.5 million over the course of the year. To put this in context, that’s 30% the council’s totally yearly budget.
“We’re pleased the Prime Minister listened to our case and as a result Gedling Borough Council has received £1.1m in the second tranche of £1.6 billion Covid-19 the Government announced yesterday evening. This is a welcome step in the right direction to help protect vital local services for our residents and help safeguard the jobs of our council’s heroic key workers.
“Our thanks to the Prime Minister for listening to the case we made on behalf of our residents and communities in Gedling Borough.
“This additional funding is welcome but it will only cover six weeks of lost income for the council – we urge the Government to keep to their promise to fully reimburse councils, so that we can protect vital services for residents and play our full role in helping our communities and country with the recovery from the impacts of this indiscriminate virus.”
He said: “After I met the Communities and Local Government Secretary to discuss funding for Gedling’s Coronavirus response, I’m really pleased that Gedling will receive an additional £1,178,385 from the Government emergency coronavirus fund to help ensure essential services are not impacted by the extra demands placed on councils by coronavirus.
“This means that since the pandemic started, Gedling Borough Council will have received an extra £1,232,567.
“This is part of the additional £3.2 billion the Government is providing to councils across England to ensure they have the resources they need during this difficult time.
He added: “Our local council is doing a tremendous job under extraordinary circumstances, helping to ensure the vulnerable are protected and supported.
“I will continue to champion everything they are doing for our community and work closely with ministers to ensure they always have the resources they need to carry out their important work.”
In announcing the latest round of funding, Local Government Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said: “Councils are playing a central role in our national fight against coronavirus and the government continues to back them at this challenging time.
“That’s why I announced an extra £3.2 billion of support for councils to help them to continue their extraordinary efforts.
“Today I’m setting out how the latest £1.6 billion of this will be allocated to councils in the fairest way possible, recognising the latest and best assessment of the pressures they face.
“We are backing local district councils and a clear majority will receive at least £1m in additional funding.”
The government has confirmed the funding will not be ringfenced, recognising councils are best placed to decide how to meet pressures in their local area.