Latest government support package for coronavirus unveiled
PUBLISHED: 17:49 17 July 2020 | UPDATED: 17:49 17 July 2020
Suffolk councils have received nearly £6million in emergency cash from central government to tackle the coronavirus pandemic in the latest settlement – but council bosses have warned more is needed to see them through the crisis.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government announced the third tranche of emergency cash for authorities on Thursday, with Suffolk’s share totalling £5.9m out of the £500m pot.
MORE: Suffolk County Council forecasts £23m shortfall in latest estimate
The breakdown is as follows:
• Babergh – £132,051
• East Suffolk – £425,440
• Ipswich – £278,009
• Mid Suffolk – £139,622
• Suffolk County – £4,690,734
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• West Suffolk – £277,769
Suffolk County Council has received the lion’s share of the latest pot for Suffolk, as it is responsible for adult care, while East Suffolk has the largest population meaning its settlement is bigger than other district and boroughs.
The latest tranche means Suffolk’s authorities so far have received more than £48.5m government cash to tackle the crisis since March, which has helped fund emergency response measures such as food parcels, temporary accommodation for homeless people during lockdown and sourcing additional PPE.
Authorities have faced the double hit of increased costs to tackle the crisis and severely depleted incomes as car park revenue, theatre takings and gym money has all been slashed under lockdown.
While the extra funds have been welcomed, councils leaders have said that more cash is needed to prevent cuts.
Earlier this week, Ipswich Borough Council’s executive agreed to pursue plans to cut its Waterfront gym and axe the Tourist Information Centre as part of a £10m savings plan, while West Suffolk Council confirmed it is also facing a £10m hit to its budget this year.
Ipswich leader David Ellesmere said: “To put this in perspective, in the emergency budget we took to executive and will take to full council at the end of the month we are assuming we will get £2.4m of government funding in the current financial year. We have got £278,009 [in the latest tranche], so it is welcome but still a long way to go.”
Councillor Gordon Jones, cabinet member for finances at Suffolk County Council said: “This is welcome news and will of course go some way to support us in meeting the unexpected financial challenges that responding to Covid-19 has caused.
“We continue to remain in contact with central Government to update them on our emerging service pressures and I hope that there is recognition that further financial support is required in months to come as local authorities continue to support communities through the response and recovery surrounding the pandemic.”
MORE: Coronavirus ‘worst financial crisis’ for 45 years says Ipswich council
Central government has announced plans to reimburse councils 75p in every £1 of lost income, after the first 5% of income has been covered by the authorities themselves, but details on which income streams will and won’t be included in that deal are yet to be confirmed, leaving uncertainty for authorities over how much they will need to dip into reserves or make savings.
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