A councillor has criticised the government's last-minute rescue deal for local authorities, calling it "too little too late".

Harry Clarke, leader of the Labour Group at Breckland Council has called the sudden "back of the sofa" £500m cash boost "disrespectful" and argues it is a gimmick that won't cover the growing gap in funds faced by local authorities.

On Wednesday local government secretary Michael Gove announced the package of emergency funds to help deal with pressures on adult social care and children's services budgets at a time when a fifth of councils nationally have warned they could go bankrupt within 18 months.

Thetford & Brandon Times: Councillor Harry ClarkeCouncillor Harry Clarke (Image: Newsquest)

At a Breckland Council meeting on Thursday, the opposition leader said: " I understand that the government has finally found some money down the back of the sofa.

"This is too little too late and demonstrates the government's complete disrespect for local councils."

He added that he fears it throws carefully planned budgets into disarray and the sudden nature of the funding fails to support proper planning for the delivery of its services.

Phil Cowen, cabinet member for finance at the Conservative-controlled council said any additional funds are welcome at a time when the authority faces growing financial pressures - particularly due to the increased demand for temporary accommodation.

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Thetford & Brandon Times: Councillor Phil Cowen, cabinet member for financeCouncillor Phil Cowen, cabinet member for finance (Image: Breckland Council)

He added that while they have produced a "prudent" budget this year, there could be bigger challenges in the future.

While the extra support will provide a vital boost to council finances, the Local Government Association said this falls well short of the estimated £1.6bn needed to plug the funding gap this year.

Mr Clarke added: "Chickens are coming home to roost after 13 years of austerity. Some councils will still have to cut services. And I think locally in Norfolk at the district and county level it is going to be even tougher."