‘Don’t let residents pay price for virus’ Brent Council tells government
PUBLISHED: 10:56 02 September 2020 | UPDATED: 11:56 03 September 2020
Brent Council has urged the government to pick up a £26.4m Covid bill and “not allow residents to pay the price” of the pandemic.
Brent had the highest number of deaths in the country between March 1 and June 6, with 210.9 deaths per 100,000 population and Church End being its epicentre.
Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick said in March that “this government stands with local councils” and would do “whatever is necessary” to support their efforts.
The government has said that Brent Council has received nearly £22million in emergency funding on top of a core spending power increase of nearly £17million in 2020/21 before additional emergency funding was announced.
In total, Brent Council has received more than £145million from across government to support the council, communities and businesses in the area, but the council insists a shortfall remains.
Cllr Margaret McLennan, deputy leader of Brent Council and lead member for resources, said: “The government are expecting more and more of councils, and while we are pleased that they are recognising the central role of local authorities in controlling the spread of coronavirus, the resources provided must reflect the needs of local areas.
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“The government promised they would provide whatever funding is needed to help councils get through the other side of this pandemic, and we hope they will fulfil this promise and not allow Brent residents to pay the price for the impact of this pandemic on their lives.”
Council officers spent around £5m on personal protective equipment (PPE), £1.4m on accommodation for rough sleepers and potential rough sleepers and £750,000 on shielding support, including food delivery.
Lord Richard Best, speaking at Brent’s poverty summit last month, said: “I hope to goodness that when government comes to settle their bills, having persuaded local authorities to put in so much time and effort combatting all aspects of Covid, that councils get properly fully reimbursed.
“I don’t like the words ‘sharing the cost with local government’.
“Let’s see local authorities already struggling financially fully recompensed for all the good work they’ve been doing rising to this awful challenge.”
A government spokesperson said: “For relevant losses of sales, fees and charges, over and above the first five per cent of planned income, we’re covering 75p in the pound for revenue they haven’t been able to generate in areas including parking fees and museum entry.
“For many councils, this will be a significant portion of their income lost as result of the pandemic.
“We will continue to work closely with councils as they support their communities through the pandemic and if any are concerned about their future financial position they should contact MHCLG (the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government).”
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