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Councils receive £1.6 billion in additional government funding but Hackney leaders say support must be long-term

PUBLISHED: 13:07 21 April 2020 | UPDATED: 13:45 21 April 2020

Hackney South and Shoreditch MP Meg Hillier. Picture: Stefano Cagnoni

Hackney South and Shoreditch MP Meg Hillier. Picture: Stefano Cagnoni

Stefano Cagnoni

Local government secretary Robert Jenrick announced on April 18 an additional £1.6 billion of new funding for councils as they respond to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Hackney Mayor Phil Glanville. Picture: Emma BartholomewHackney Mayor Phil Glanville. Picture: Emma Bartholomew

But Hackney leaders want to ensure the government will continue to keep its promises and cover mounting costs for vital services during and long after the immediate crisis is over.

Hackney South and Shoreditch MP Meg Hillier told the Gazette: “We still need to know how councils will access this money and whether there will be ongoing support for the longer-term costs to local services from coronavirus and the lockdown.

I’ll be virtually meeting London council treasurers shortly to assess the situation so I can press the government to make sure local citizens are not going to directly foot the bill or suffer from more cuts.”

MP Meg Hillier, who chairs the House of Commons public spending watchdog The Public Accounts Committee says the cost of supporting communities through Covid-19 is “a real concern.”

Cllr Richard Watts, leader of Islington Council, speaking at a Fair Futures Commission meeting at Arts and Media School Islington. Photo by Em Fitzgerald Cllr Richard Watts, leader of Islington Council, speaking at a Fair Futures Commission meeting at Arts and Media School Islington. Photo by Em Fitzgerald

The government has given councils £3.2 billion, so far, to deal with the pandemic which Mayor of Hackney, Phillip Glanville, says has “put incredible pressure on council budgets already cut to the bone during a decade of austerity.”

The Mayor told the Gazette: “Councils like Hackney have 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.”

Mayor Glanville said council staff had already been filling gaps in government provision by topping up and delivering food parcels to self-isolating families and supporting staff in the NHS and local care homes.

“We’re doing that because it’s the right thing to do – helping families in need 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,” he said.

The Mayor made his comments after Islington Council leader Richard Watts spoke out against local government secretary Robert Jenrick for allegedly backtracking on promises for further funding for local councils during a call with various council leaders earlier this month (April 14).

During the announcement for new funding secretary Jenrick thanked council workers calling them unsung heroes.

“I promised local government would have the resources they need to meet this challenge and today demonstrates my commitment to doing just that.

We stand shoulder to shoulder with local government and my priority is to make sure they are supported so they can continue to support their communities through this challenging time,” said secretary Jenrick.

Robert Jenrick, the housing, communities and local government secretary, at a Downing Street briefing. Photograph: Downing Street.Robert Jenrick, the housing, communities and local government secretary, at a Downing Street briefing. Photograph: Downing Street.

For the latest coronavirus news from Hackney and across London follow our live blog here, visit our corona virus page, or join our Facebook group here.

Or to find more groups, networks and organisations like this in Hackney providing support during the Coronavirus lockdown visit our There With You Essential List.


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