Statement: ‘Dangerously low’ settlement for vital local government

On 28 April, the government announced allocations of a £1.6bn settlement for local government to deal with the immediate impacts of coronavirus. It is a figure that rows back on promises and dangerously underestimates the vital work done by council key workers, argues NLGN Director Adam Lent.

Adam Lent, Director of New Local Government, responds:

“The funding settlement for local government is nowhere near enough to meet the scale of the challenges they are facing on the ground. Councils were told at the start of the crisis to spend “whatever it takes” to protect their communities. Their work since then has been absolutely vital to the pandemic response, protecting the most vulnerable and keeping vital services going. Many council workers have been risking their lives on the front line, with little or no PPE.

“It is appalling that the government has now rowed back on its commitment of full financial support for these key workers and services. The latest injection of £1.6bn falls way short of what is needed. Far from cutting council funding, the Government should be increasing it in order to better protect the country from the pandemic and makes sure selfless public servants remain safe.

“Instead of announcing figures apparently plucked from thin air, government should be working closely with councils to find out what cost pressures they are facing and ensure funding keeps pace with needs on the ground. If they do not, there is a real risk that vital local services will go to the wall, adding yet more pressure on communities.

“Put simply, adequate funding of our local government is a matter of people’s survival during this crisis, and afterwards, where our services will face increasing demand from people that covid has left even more vulnerable.”

For further comment or enquiries please contact Head of Communications Katy Oglethorpe on 0207 1484 609 or katy@newlocal.org.uk.