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Councils across England have been promised an extra £1.6b in funding to help them tackle the coronavirus crisis, after some local authorities raised concerns that services could suffer.
As the pandemic continues to impact every area of life across the UK, the Local Government Association (LGA) warned that the current situation could lead to councils taking “extreme cost-cutting and rationing measures soon”.
The health emergency has piled pressure onto many different council services, including support for those living with disabilities and social care. Meanwhile, sources of income such as parking fees have plummeted as the population stays at home.
Local government secretary Robert Jenrick announced the funding at the daily briefing at Downing Street on Saturday, adding that cash boost will bolster the backing councils have received to cope with the pandemic to £3.2 billion.
An extra £300 million will go to devolved administrations, with Scotland getting £155 million, Wales £95 million, and Northern Ireland £50 million.
Jenrick said: “I promised local government would have the resources they need to meet this challenge.
“We stand shoulder to shoulder with local government and my priority is to make sure they are supported so they can continue to support their communities through this challenging time.
“Up and down the country council workers are the unsung heroes as we tackle this virus.
“They are in the front line of the national effort to keep the public safe and deliver the services people need.”
In a letter to Jenrick before the extra funding was announced, the LGA said “radical action” to prevent councils “rationing spending” was needed
The organisation said that unless more funding was received, the situation would end up “harming both the long-term continuity of existing services and the Covid-19 response at a time when both are so vitally needed, something we all wish to avoid”.
The letter also stressed the loss of income being generated by councils.
It said: “Local authorities are suffering severe income loss from a range of services from leisure, parking, bus operations, planning and commercial waste.
“Many councils rely heavily on this income to fund their annual expenditure – on average, 10% of total gross service costs are funded through fees and charges, going up to 25% on average for shire districts in particular.”