Councillor Sam Webster, Nottingham City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Finance, has today warned that vital council services are under severe threat unless the Government keeps its promises to fully reimburse the authority for the impact of the Covid-19 crisis.
According to Councillor Webster, ‘failure by the Government to provide adequate funding risks triggering cuts to services and closures of council buildings and facilities, which could be devastating for local people – in particular the most vulnerable in our city ’.
Nottingham City Council has estimated the potential costs of the pandemic to be at least £54 million, but the Government has so far only provided £19 million in emergency funding.
This comes on top of 10 years of austerity and deep funding reductions by Central Government which has seen Nottingham City Council’s grant income for services cut by more than £100 million a year.
The Government has previously pledged to reimburse costs and “stand shoulder to shoulder” with local authorities in tackling the Covid-19 crisis. However, latest analysis shows that, across the country, councils are facing a shortfall of £3.5bn in the social care system alone and are experiencing rising costs and a loss of revenue income due to Covid-19.
Councillor Sam Webster continues: “There’s a looming crisis ahead with devastating consequences for local services if the Government reneges on its promise. The majority of the Council’s expenditure goes towards funding care services for older people and protecting vulnerable children.
“During the pandemic we’ve seen our key council workers doing outstanding work, often in difficult circumstances. From care workers, bus drivers and household waste collection teams to Community Protection Officers, housing support staff and park rangers, whether working directly or indirectly for Nottingham City Council we couldn’t have come this far without them. It’s now imperative that the Government doesn’t turn its back on these people by leaving a huge gap in the funding that’s required.
“We have had to endure year after year of cuts to our budgets which has already made it extremely difficult to maintain services. The Government can’t expect us to now meet the huge costs and loss of revenue due to Covid-19 on top of the seemingly endless austerity.
“The Government promised they would support us and we’ve stepped up and done what was asked of us. It would be incredibly disappointing if they now backtracked and as a consequence put local services at extreme risk.”