Local government secretary Robert Jenrick today used the provisional finance settlement for 2021/22 to confirm the allocations for £1.55bn funding.
Mr Jenrick said the £1.55bn unringfenced grant - the fifth tranche of emergency coronavirus funding - would help councils 'manage the immediate and long-term impacts of the pandemic' as part of a ‘significant’ settlement featuring £2.2bn extra funding on top of the £49bn in 2020/21.
Mr Jenrick said councils had already received £7.2bn this year compared to the £6.2bn they were projecting to spend by the end of 2020/21.
However, shadow local government secretary Steve Reed argued the settlement left councils facing a ‘vast funding gap’ that would inevitably mean cuts to job and frontline services, as well as the closure of libraries, youth centres and leisure centres.
Mr Reed added that the settlement would force local authorities to ‘hike up’ council tax, adding: ‘The Conservatives have decided to clobber hard-working families when their jobs and incomes are already under extreme pressure and in return these taxpayers will get fewer services.’
Chairman of the Local Government Association, Cllr James Jamieson, said more than 85% of the potential core funding increase next year was dependent on council tax increasing by 5%.
Mr Jenrick said local authorities were ‘not under any obligation to increase council tax’.
He continued: ‘I want to see local government emerge stronger, more sustainable and better able to meet the needs of those it serves.
'It puts councils who were at the forefront of our response to the pandemic at the forefront of our recovery.’
Mr Jenrick added that he wanted ‘greater openness and accountability’ from councils, said better financial management was needed in a minority of cases and called for the making of ‘unwise and risky investments’ to end.