Giles Watling, MP for Clacton, has welcomed new analysis showing that local authorities across Essex have so far received an extra £240m to support vital local services during the Covid-19 pandemic, with further funding confirmed for next year.
Over half of this funding has not been ringfenced, meaning local leaders can decide how to use the additional funds and which local services to boost investment to. This could include counselling services, delivering essential supplies to vulnerable families, and ensuring cherished green spaces are well maintained and Covid-secure.
Local authorities have also received over £2 billion in further grant funding since March last year to deliver specific schemes, such as providing emergency support for rough sleepers, preventing children going hungry, setting up local test and trace services and measures to make care homes, high streets, and town centres Covid-secure.
In total, the Government has provided local authorities across England with more than £7 billion in additional support and introduced a range of measures to help councils manage pressures on their finances created by the pandemic, worth billions more. A further £3 billion will be allocated to councils from April onwards.
Commenting on the findings, Giles said:
“Councils across Essex, including our local Tendring District Council, have done an incredible job providing local services and keeping people safe under the most difficult of circumstances, but we recognise the financial pressures they have faced.
“That’s why I am delighted that the Government, which I am proud to support, has supported council leaders with this extra funding, helping to protect vital services and ensure our council has the resources it needs to support our community.
“This shows that the Conservatives are delivering on their promise to support vulnerable families and local people during the pandemic, and I am confident this will continue.”
Commenting, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said:
“From the start of the pandemic, we committed to ensuring that councils had the resources they needed to step up and support their communities.
“That commitment remains undimmed, which is why we have provided councils with more than £7 billion of additional funding for Covid-19 expenditure, and will continue to ensure they have the resources they need to provide vital local services and held their communities build back better from the pandemic.”
Government Actions to support Councils:
- Providing over £7 billion in extra funding to local authorities since the beginning of the pandemic, ensuring they can support the most vulnerable. This includes £4.6 billion in un-ringfenced grants to cover any additional costs associated with the pandemic, plus a further £1.1 billion extra for social care and grant funding for a range of specific measures such as reopening high streets safely, providing emergency support for rough sleepers, preventing vulnerable families from going hungry, developing test and trace services and supporting local compliance (Hansard, 17 December 2020, Vol.686, Col.426, link; MHCLG, Guidance, 11 January 2021, link).
- Confirming local authorities will receive a further £3 billion in extra grant funding in 2020-21, to support them in meeting their coronavirus pressures. We are also providing funding to support risk of homelessness during Covid-19 through an additional £254 million of resource funding including £103 million announced earlier this year for accommodation and substance misuse (HMT, 2020 Spending Review, 25 November 2020, link).
- Increasing funding for local authorities by £2.2 billion next year, helping them continue to deliver the key services we all rely on every day. Councils across England will receive £51.2 billion in 2021-22, representing a 4.5 per cent cash terms increase to their cores spending power on average. This will provide local leaders with additional resources to deliver effective local services and continue to support their communities during the pandemic, while protecting council taxpayers from excessive increases (MHCLG, Press Release, 17 December 2020, link).
- Giving councils a share of more than £300 million to develop test and tracing services in their local communities. Over £300 million will be provided to all councils in England to develop and action their plans to reduce the spread of the virus in their area. Each plan will focus on identifying and containing potential outbreaks in places such as workplaces, housing complexes, care homes and schools (DHSC, Press Release, 22 May 2020, link).
- Providing £170 million to ensure vulnerable households do not go hungry this winter. Councils will get an extra £170 million via our Covid Winter Grant Scheme, with at least 80 per cent of this earmarked to support hardest-hit families with the cost of food and bills. This builds on the £63 million provided to councils earlier this year to assist those struggling to afford food and essentials (DWP, Press Release, 8 November 2020, link; MHCLG, Press Release, 11 June 2020, link).
- Helping councils to keep bills low, meaning people will keep more of the money they earn while continuing to receive vital local services. We will provide £670 million next year to help councils to continue reducing council tax bills for those least able to pay, including households impacted financially by the pandemic, building on the £500 million we have provided so far during the pandemic (MHCLG, Press Release, 24 March 2020, link).
- Allowing councils to defer business rates payments, easing any immediate financial pressures they may face. Councils have been allowed to defer £2.6 billion in business rates payments, and we have brought forward care grant payments worth £850 million. These were paid in a lump sum in April to provide immediate support for frontline social care services and to ease pressures on council’s finances (Hansard, 2 July 2020, WS 333, link; MHCLG, Press Release, 16 April 2020, link).