Government must support local Councils on the frontline of Coronavirus response

Our branch has joined calls for the government to provide further financial support for local councils who are at the forefront of the battle against Coronavirus. This comes amidst growing concerns that local councils will have to suspend spending on ‘non-essential’ services as they try to cope with an estimated £600m shortfall in their budgets due to responding to the Coronavirus. The costs associated with providing additional social care in response to the virus is estimated to be costing local councils £1 billion in unbudgeted expenditure.

The Leader of North Yorkshire County Council, Councillor Carl Les, recently confirmed in regional media that that council was facing additional costs in the region of £65 million to support the response to Coronavirus. He said that, whilst NYCC had received an additional grant of £26 million from the government, this still left an estimated shortfall of around £40 million.

Our Branch Secretary, Wendy Nichols, said: “We support calls by the Leader of North Yorkshire County Council for the government to provide additional funding to plug the gap.

“Councils, and council workers, are at the forefront of the response to this dreadful virus. Whether that is keeping our schools open for key workers, supporting residents who are shielding, looking after our vulnerable children and adults, keeping our roads and communication links open, emptying our bins or maintaining other essential services.

“Pressure from trade unions such as UNISON, and from local councillors, has forced the government to announce a further funding package for local government but this still falls well short of the money councils need to ensure local residents and council workers don’t have to pay the price of the Coronavirus response.

“North Yorkshire County Council has already seen its spending power cut by around 40% since 2011 after losing around £136 million in direct grants from the government.

“Our members have stepped up to the challenge of Coronavirus, but I am very worried that their reward could be more jobs cuts and service reductions if the government doesn’t come forward and honour its pledge to fully fund the Coronavirus response.”