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Fears for services as coronavirus leaves council facing £14m shortfall

PUBLISHED: 09:42 30 April 2020 | UPDATED: 09:42 30 April 2020

The leader of Norwich City Council says the government must make more money available or local councils could struggle to keep services running. Photo: Nick Butcher

The leader of Norwich City Council says the government must make more money available or local councils could struggle to keep services running. Photo: Nick Butcher

EDP pics © 2007

Fears are growing that services for people in Norfolk could be put at risk, because councils could be left with multi-million pound funding black holes due to coronavirus.

Norwich City Council Labour leader Alan Waters. Picture: Ian BurtNorwich City Council Labour leader Alan Waters. Picture: Ian Burt

Norfolk’s councils were told this week that they would share an extra £25.8m from a £1.6bn government pot to help their response to the coronavirus in communities.

Local government minister Robert Jenrick has described local council workers as the “unsung heroes” of the pandemic, for their work supporting vulnerable people.

But the leader of Norwich City Council says the extra £1.4m it received this week, on top of the £105,000 it had preciously got, is just a fraction of the £14m it estimates it will lose in lost income.

Alan Waters, Labour leader at City Hall, said: “Throughout this crisis we have focused on supporting our most vulnerable residents, and continued to deliver essential services, and I’m proud of what we’ve achieved.

“However, providing this additional, vital support to keep our city and its residents afloat has meant higher spending – at a time when we’ve seen a huge drop in our usual income streams.

“Although the full impact of this crisis is still unclear, our initial estimates suggest the loss of income to the council could be up to £14m.

The recent government allocation to Norwich of £1.4m, although welcome, will simply not cover the expenditure and loss of income the council is experiencing as a result of COVID-19.

“Going forward, district councils will be key in driving the social and economic recovery from the pandemic. In order to do this and continue to deliver vital services to local people, the sector urgently needs additional funding.”

Norfolk County Council had been awarded just over £16.7m, which, added to the £26.9m from the first tranche of government cash, brought its total to more than £43.6m.

Andrew Jamieson, cabinet member for finance at Norfolk County Council, had previously said all of the £26.9m awarded before had been spent.

He said: “This funding is very welcome, however, the true cost of this crisis on local government won’t become clear for months to come. We will continue to work with the ministry over the coming months as we see the full impact of COVID-19 on the council emerge.”

MORE: Two more coronavirus deaths in Norfolk hospitals


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