Heather Jameson 28 April 2020

Counties call for clarity on how coronavirus cash will be allocated

Counties call for clarity on how coronavirus cash will be allocated image

County councils have called for clarity on how the latest round of emergency cash to deal with the coronavirus crisis will be split.

The Government announced a second tranche of £1.6bn funding last week, but have yet to reveal how it will be split.

The first round of additional funding saw councils with social care responsibilities take a larger portion of the cash.

However, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is reconsidering the second round as district councils have faced plummeting income as well as rising cost pressures during the pandemic. While counties have also been hit by falling income.

Latest figures from the County Councils’ Network suggest coronavirus is adding an extra £1bn to care costs in the counties. This is on top of the pre-virus funding black hole.

CCN chairman, Cllr David Williams said: ‘If the government changes the distribution of emergency funding it will disproportionately and unfairly impact those councils responsible for adult and children’s social care, reducing the funding available for these vital care services.’

He suggested compensation for loss of income, rather that increased expenditure, should be ‘outside the £1.6bn allocation’ for tackling coronavirus.

He added: ‘There are a number of other measures that ministers could bring forward to provide short-term financial flexibility, such as a relaxation of borrowing rules so councils can borrow to fund revenue spending and a suspension of Section 114 requirements.’

Local government finance needs a bigger quantum, finance chief Rob Whiteman told MPs this week (The MJ £).

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