Laura Sharman 18 March 2020

Councils to be fully funded for coronavirus costs

Councils in England will be fully funded for implementing measures to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, the chancellor has confirmed.

Speaking yesterday, Rishi Sunak said local authorities will be fully compensated for the new measures, with the devolved administrations receiving at least £3.5bn in additional funding.

Mr Sunak also unveiled a package of ‘unprecedented’ support for businesses with £330bn of guarantees.

The business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England will be extended for a year, while small businesses will receive up to £10,000 in grants.

The amount businesses can borrow through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme has also increased to £5m and the Government will cover the first six months of interest payments.

Planning rules have also been relaxed so that pubs and restaurants can provide hot food takeaways without having to apply for permission to their local council.

The Government hopes this will support businesses and help people who have to self-isolate.

Mr Sunak said: ‘We will do whatever it takes to protect our people and businesses from the effects of this global economic emergency brought on by the Coronavirus pandemic.

‘The interventions I am setting out today will help support businesses of all sizes – so they can continue operating during these unprecedented times.’

The Government is also set to pass emergency laws this week to give ministers the power to respond to the coronavirus crisis as needed.

The Coronavirus Bill would give police and immigration the power to detain people and put them in isolation facilities if necessary to protect public health. Under the proposals, changes to councils’ duties under the Care Act to help them prioritise people with the greatest care needs.

Recently retired NHS staff and social workers will also be able to return to work without any negative repercussions to their pensions.

Health and social care secretary, Matt Hancock, said: ‘The new measures we will be introducing in the Emergency Coronavirus Bill this week will only be used when it is absolutely necessary and must be timed to maximise their effectiveness, but crucially they give the government the powers it needs to protect lives.

‘By planning for the worst and working for the best we will get through this, but this is a national effort and we must all work together ? from businesses prioritising the welfare of their employees, to people thoroughly washing their hands.’

Local government secretary Robert Jenrick has urged council leaders not to put off decisions because of money in their response to the coronavirus pandemic.

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