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Letter to the Prime Minister about Council funding for COVID-19

Published on:

30 April 2020

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Text of a letter to the Prime Minister about Government covering Enfield Council's costs incurred as a result of Coronavirus.

Dear Prime Minister,

We are writing to you as a matter of urgency to seek firm assurances that the Government will honour their commitment to give the correct level of financial support to local authorities like Enfield.

This assurance is crucial to us and all local authorities as we continue our vital role of supporting local residents and businesses most affected by the current situation.

Like all other local authorities across the country, Enfield Council is facing extreme financial pressure as we seek to manage the impact of the Covid-19 crisis in our borough.

The financial impact of the Covid-19 crisis on local government is of a scale and speed that we have never before experienced.

The words from Government at the outset of the crisis towards local authorities were confident and encouraging. It appeared that Government fully understood and appreciated the role we had to play in meeting the challenge from Covid-19.

Enfield Council believed we had support from your government to do what was necessary to stabilise our communities and get help to those who need it and that you would play your part by meeting the costs incurred.

Enfield Council now need that support to manifest itself in funding that commensurate with both our outlay to support those affected by the crisis and our loss of income. Like many others leading the response in local government we are increasingly concerned that there may have been a change of mood in Government during your absence.

We hope that what we understood at the outset would be a joint venture remains so and that you will be taking steps to ensure adequate financial support is forthcoming.

Enfield Council’s Executive Director of Resources has recently confirmed to us that the anticipated additional cost of dealing with the Covid-19 crisis for our council, including new direct costs incurred and loss of expected income, will be in the region of £68m.

This projection takes into account the costs of scaling up existing activity and financing new activity in response to the crisis. It also covers the significant loss in income we are facing from reduced council tax receipts and retained business rates. In addition, our fees and charges income has also reduced.

All these factors jeopardise our planned programme of budgetary savings for the current financial year and beyond. These savings have themselves been necessitated by ongoing Government cuts to our funding.

During March and April year Enfield Council received emergency Government funding payments totalling £17.9m to help us manage the impact of the crisis and support local residents and businesses. This emergency funding, whilst welcome, amounts to a quarter of what we have spent or lost in income.

Councils should be supported by Government to recover the full cost of investment made and loss of income incurred as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. This would allow us to retain financial resilience and assist in leading our borough into the post COVID-19 recovery phase. A stable local government sector will be vital to securing the long-term recovery of the nation.

If Enfield Council does not receive adequate recompense of our Covid-19 related costs from Government, we will have little choice but to cut vital public services. This will further weaken what is already a very fragile situation on the ground at a time when demand for our services and support will remain at its highest in the community.

We hope that you will recognise the gravity of the situation and you will instruct ministers to take the action necessary to guarantee all local authorities will receive the full financial support they need.

We look forward to hearing from you in due course.

Yours sincerely,

Cllr Nesil Caliskan
Leader of Enfield Council

Cllr Mary Maguire
Cabinet Member for Finance & Procurement