Council given extra £1.1milllion in Covid funds

The council is facing a £3million shortfall this year, which is expected to increase due to the lock

The council is facing a £3million shortfall this year, which is expected to increase due to the lockdown. Picture: Getty Images - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

An extra £1.17million has been given to North Somerset Council to enable it to continue funding vital services during the pandemic.

North Somerset Council has received £22.91million from the Government since the start of the pandemic.

The Covid funding is not ring-fenced, so local authorities can determine how to spend the cash to protect public health, vulnerable people and vital services.

Weston MP John Penrose stressed the funds have been crucial.

He said: “The council’s costs have risen due to coronavirus, and their income on everything from local taxes to parking charges has dropped at the same time, so this latest cash is essential for North Somerset to get through what we know is going to be a difficult winter.”

North Somerset Council was expecting the cost of the pandemic to reach £25.71million by March – leaving a shortfall of £3million after Government funding.

However, these figures did not take into account the second lockdown or allow for any further restrictions which may come in.

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Due to further lost income and an increase in business support and PPE costs, the authority says it will need further funding to avoid making cuts.

Cllr Mike Bell, the authority’s deputy leader said: “In that context, we need further funding support to avoid having to make cuts in the year.

“It also doesn’t help address a £6-7million shortfall in our budget for 2021/2022, which will also be very challenging without further help.

“We are grateful for the continued support from the Government to help meet the exceptional costs of the Covid-19 pandemic, but I have two big concerns.

“The first is the cost of adult and children’s social care. Demand and costs for these services are continuing to rise and funding has not grown to match.

“The second is how to help our economy and community to recover after the pandemic.

“Our budgets are under pressure and we do not have significant reserves, so we are having to try and build for recovery with our hands tied between our backs.

“We need the Government to deliver sustainable funding for care and to help kickstart recovery when the time comes.”