‘Ministers must keep their promise’ – £19m coronavirus funding gap revealed
Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville has called for further Government support for the Council’s coronavirus response after forecasts showed existing funding would cover less than half of vital frontline services.
Additional costs of delivering essential adult and children’s social care, education and support for homeless families during the pandemic, as well as maintaining other services like waste collections, could reach around £36million in the next three months alone.
The borough is expected to receive only £17m from emergency Government support announced so far, with millions being invested in social care, support for rough sleepers, an emergency food delivery programme – and grants, rebates, hardship funds and voluntary sector rent suspensions already being applied as part of the Council’s support packages for residents and businesses.
The forecasts were explained in a report agreed by an emergency meeting of the Council’s Cabinet this afternoon, which also earmarked investment in frontline services this year to help the fight against coronavirus, including:
£7m for adult social care to support vulnerable residents
£4m for education and children’s social care services
£1.6m for homelessness work, including emergency accommodation for rough sleepers
Over £5m on in Council Tax reductions and emergency support for families in hardship
A £100,000 hardship fund for migrants and refugees who do not have access to welfare or other support under Government rules
At the start of the pandemic councils like Hackney were told by the Government to ‘spend whatever it takes’ to respond to the crisis.
In Hackney, we have rightly been committing millions of pounds of funding to respond to the coronavirus crisis and ensure support is available to residents and businesses – often in advance of receiving any money or guidance from the Government and while experiencing deep falls in income.
Our incredible hard-working staff are also filling gaps in Government provision, including topping up and delivering emergency food parcels to self-isolating individuals and families, as well as supporting colleagues in the NHS and local care homes.
We’re doing that because it’s the right thing to do – supporting families in need, voluntary sector organisations helping at the frontline and businesses struggling to survive because of the effects of the pandemic – but also because ministers have repeatedly promised that our work would be fully funded.
This report highlights the impact not keeping that promise would have, and the sheer financial cost of responding to the pandemic, alongside the tragedy of lives lost and families torn apart.
While the Government’s latest funding announcement at the weekend was welcome, ministers must renew that clear commitment that they made at the start and promise to back our staff delivering vital social care, waste and other services during this crisis – not just with platitudes, but with money.
Mayor Glanville will take part in a live #GrillPhil Q&A on Facebook and Twitter on Thursday 23 April, from 1.45-2.45pm. Submit your questions using the hashtag.
The Council launched dedicated financial support packages to help the borough through the pandemic last month. Around 20,000 families and individuals on low incomes have received up to £150 off their Council Tax bill, with an extra £500,000 added to the Council’s Discretionary Crisis Support Scheme that supports households with emergency needs.
More than £30m in coronavirus grants have been paid to nearly 2,000 businesses so far, alongside business rate relief and suspension of many fees and charges. Rent for the Council’s commercial tenants has also been deferred.
For the latest information about the Council’s coronavirus response, to get support and to sign up for email updates, visit the coronavirus page.