It has emerged that Sheffield City Council has been handed a £2million cut (11%) in the emergency funding it has received from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government as it tries to tackle the coronavirus.
Councils in areas of deprivation have been handed a £126m cut overall after the government’s second payment of emergency funding to fight covid-19. Yet many of these areas have the highest coronavirus infection rates in the country.
South Yorkshire has been particularly badly hit by the cuts, with Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham Councils having their funding slashed by 17%, 15%, and 18% respectively.
According to the cross-party Local Government Association, councils in England are facing a total financial black hole of between £10 and £13 billion because of the cost pressures of fighting covid-19, such as the sourcing of Personal Protective Equipment, and from lost income and savings opportunities. So far, the government has allocated just £3.2 billion to councils to help them through the crisis.
The Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said that the Government “would stand behind councils and give them the funding they need” but has since suggested that councils will not be fully reimbursed for all their covid-related costs.
This black hole, if not filled, could see councils have to cut essential services like adult and children’s social care by over 20 per cent to stave off bankruptcy.
We’ve already had councils across the country say that they cannot deliver key social care services because the pandemic has left them overstretched. These cuts will make the situation worse.
The government must stay true to its word and ensure that councils have the resources they need to support our communities during and after this crisis.