Government gives Suffolk £21m coronavirus response support
- Credit: Archant
A fresh injection of government cash to help local authorities tackle the coronavirus crisis has eased the pressure but council leaders are warning that more support will be needed further down the line.
The Government confirmed its allocations to councils for a second wave of £1.6billion on Tuesday night, with Suffolk receiving just over £21.5million.
The district and borough authorities received a significantly bigger settlement this time around, after councils submitted their estimates for additional spend and lost income from the coronavirus crisis a fortnight ago.
MORE: Investigation reveals Suffolk councils losing millions of pounds in coronavirus crisisIpswich Borough Council had been given just under £77,000 at the end of March, but that only covered its losses for a day and a half. Lost income for April alone was £1.2m.
It has been given £1.3m in the latest wave of cash.
Labour borough council leader David Ellesmere said: “District councils have done significantly better out of this round of funding.
“There was a realisation from the Government that it hadn’t treated districts fairly in the first round, so that has certainly taken the immediate pressure off.
“But we just need to recognise that what we have had so far has covered a month’s worth of increased costs and lost income.
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“We would be concerned if the Government thought it had given all the money it needs to and there isn’t any more forthcoming.”
Conservative group leader in Ipswich, Ian Fisher, said the funding meant the council could continue to do “a tremendous job under extraordinary circumstances”.
Uncertainty remains over income streams such as theatres, which are not expected to re-open anytime soon, even once lockdown measures are lifted, meaning the Government support packages are vital.
The full council settlements in the latest wave are as follows:
• Babergh – £914,313
• East Suffolk – £2,488,618
• Ipswich – £1,353,613
• Mid Suffolk – £1,029,193
• Suffolk County – £13,977,142
• West Suffolk – £1,784,089
MORE: Follow the Suffolk Coronavirus Facebook page for the latest updatesIt is understood the funding allocation was based on a funding formula of population sizes, meaning East Suffolk Council as England’s largest district received the most.
Mr Ellesmere said that was not necessarily getting to the root of the need, as urban areas such as Ipswich were facing a greater demand in homeless support and food parcels.
Suffolk County Council said it was still not yet clear what the financial impact of Covid-19 would be, but was forecasting a £56m additional expenditure on the crisis by the end of March 2021.
Conservative cabinet member for finance Gordon Jones said the latest package was “very welcome news” but added: “We will continue our conversations with the Government to ensure they remain fully aware of the additional financial pressures we are experiencing.
“We continue to estimate the financial impact of Covid-19 will be substantially greater than the £34.7m funding that the Government has now provided us.
“The largest area of spend for us is adult care and the costs have escalated greatly in this sector since the coronavirus took hold in March.
MORE: Suffolk councils show extraordinary efforts in coronavirus crisis“We are using the money we have received from Government to meet some of these additional costs already, but as time moves on there are further, continuing additional costs for providing care support to adults and children due to the social distancing and resourcing restrictions we all need to work with. In addition, we will continue to source PPE from all available avenues to reduce infection and protect staff and residents.”