Councillor Keith Aspden, Leader of City of York Council, has today written to Ministers to underline the need to for national government to uphold its promise by covering the cost of Covid-19 to local authorities.
Local authorities like City of York Council have been instrumental in the UK’s response to the pandemic and supporting vulnerable residents. However, councils across the UK now face serious pressures to their finances as a result of Covid-19 with the funding gap estimated at £24 million in York.
The letter also calls for greater freedom for local authorities to respond to economic pressures so that Councils like York have the necessary tools to drive forward our recovery. These measures range from greater freedom around borrowing to more flexibility in the delivery of major transport, flood and infrastructure schemes.
Across the country, local authorities are saying that Covid-19 is stretching their finances to the limit. Cross party efforts led by the Local Government Association are pushing the government to offer a rock-solid commitment to cover the full cost of the pandemic and have argued that councils will need up to four times the funding that has been allocated so far.
Councillor Keith Aspden, Leader of York Council, said:
“The £10 million given to City of York has been welcome, but the reality is that it is nowhere near enough to cover the costs of supporting residents and businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic, which is now estimated to be £34 million for York in total. It is quite clear that all local authorities locally and nationally are going to require significantly more funding to weather this crisis and support our recovery.
“We are also fortunate to be in a stronger position than many other local authorities who risk being unable to set a balanced budget as a result of the crisis. However, a £24 million shortfall will create significant financial challenges for the Council as we seek to protect core services and drive forward our local recovery.
“Moving forward, we will continue working to support our communities, having introduced emergency funds for residents and businesses, as well as establishing community hubs to help the most vulnerable. We are ready to play an essential role in supporting economic recovery and our major economic projects are crucial to future inclusive growth for all.”