Coronavirus: Hackney Council appeals for government to bridge £19 million funding gap
- Credit: Supplied by Hackney Council
Hackney council is facing a £19 million funding shortfall during the coronavirus lockdown.
That is the message from Hackney mayor Philip Glanville and deputy mayor Rebecca Rennison to prime minister Boris Johnson in a letter which is appealing for more government help.
Mr Glanville said although he welcomed the £1.6 billion extra cash for councils announced on April 18, Hackney is still facing potential long-term financial instability.
“On Thursday, like you, we will be clapping our carers and key workers - it cannot be right that once this crisis is over that their jobs and the services they provide will be at risk,” Mr Glanville wrote.
“I ask that your government agrees to meet the financial needs of local councils and their key workers, and honour the pledge your secretary of state made to us at the beginning of this crisis - ‘spend what you need’ and that the government would support us.”
The borough has received £17.5 million in additional funding during the crisis, but that still leaves a £19 million budget gap in the first three months of this financial year.
With an estimated £37.2 million loss in income and substantial extra expenditures from measures brought in to support residents and businesses during the crisis, Hackney has forecast a £72 million gap in funds over the coming year.
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Mr Glanville said: “We appreciate the theoretical need to share the burden, but it must be based on the needs of our communities, a long-term plan to properly fund local government through this crisis and beyond and not a continuation of austerity.”
He added comments made by the secretary of state for housing, communities and local government Robert Jenrick, describing lost income estimates as “highly speculative”, were unwelcome and inaccurate.
A government spokesperson said: “We understand the pressure that local councils are under and we are offering them an unprecedented level of support to help them through the pandemic.
“As the mayor points out, Hackney Council has already benefitted from roughly £17.5 million of additional funding and we have also allowed them to defer business rates payments to central government to ease immediate pressures on cash flows.
“We will continue to work closely with all councils as we tackle this crisis together.”