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Councils face threat to delivery of services without extra government cash, MPs warn

PUBLISHED: 15:59 17 June 2020

Most Suffolk MPs have signed the letter appealing for more funds for councils in the county. Picture: ELAINE BRYCE

Most Suffolk MPs have signed the letter appealing for more funds for councils in the county. Picture: ELAINE BRYCE

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Councils in Suffolk face a fundamental threat to their ability to deliver key frontline services if they do not get extra funding to cope with the Covid-19 crisis, MPs have warned in a letter to the government.

Dr Dan Poulter’s letter to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has been signed by six out of seven of the county’s MPs - only South Suffolk’s James Cartlidge cannot give it his formal support, because he is parliamentary private secretary to chancellor Rishi Sunak.

In the letter, Dr Poulter makes clear that councils have seen a huge reduction in income.

MORE: Councils face serious cash shortfall

In the letter, Dr Poulter makes clear that councils have seen a huge reduction in income.

Yet while they have had to spend £61million so far this year tackling Covid-19, they have only received £43m from government so far.

“While this £43m was greatly welcomed by our local councils, this leaves a funding gap of some £18m,” Dr Poulter said.

“Alongside my fellow Suffolk MPs, we have written to the Ministry for Local Government asking that they abide by their promise to ‘do whatever is necessary to support councils in their response to coronavirus’ and look forward to the response.”

Dr Poulter said he had written the letter after speaking to the leaders and chief executives of Suffolk councils.

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Dr Poulter said: “Our local councils here in Suffolk have done a fantastic job in rising to the challenge in the fight against Covid-19, and I applaud them for their efforts.

“Our councils have done an outstanding job in supporting older people throughout the Covid crisis, and those who are most vulnerable, as well as overseeing challenging issues including re-opening our schools and providing PPE to nursing homes. But more needs to be done by government to support our councils in providing the necessary funding to continue delivering vital frontline services.”

MORE: Coverage of the coronavirus crisis

Councils now use investments in commercial property, as well as income from leisure centres, theatres and car parks to bring money in, and help limit the amount in council tax rises needed to pay for vital services.

Lockdown has effectively slashed that income entirely.

Those vital services funded include waste collection and recycling, foster care services, highway maintenance, grass and hedge cutting, street lighting, adult care provision, fire services, Trading Standards, planning permissions and environmental health to name a few.Across Suffolk, local councils are spending or predicted to spend:

■ An additional £37.1 million on Adult Social Care

■ £6.449m of support through increased local council tax support to financially hit residents

■ £2.149m on finding places to stay for the homeless

■ £1.3m in extra specific funding to help communities facing Covid-19 related issues – such as hardship funds, locality budgets and foodbanks to cope with the extra demand

■ £1m so far in support for leisure providers to keep key facilities maintained


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