More Government funding given to North Somerset ‘does not go far enough’

Mike Bell said the funding does not go far enough.

Mike Bell said the funding does not go far enough. - Credit: Archant

An additional £1.5million in government funding will be given to help North Somerset in its coronavirus recovery.

The government confirmed on Friday allocations for individual councils from the £500million of additional support for coronavirus-related spending pressures.

The funding will help councils continue to deliver crucial frontline services, support those most in need and meet new spending pressures.

North Somerset Council will receive £1,585,530 in this third tranche of additional Covid-19 funding.

The council’s deputy leader Mike Bell said the funding ‘does not go far enough’.

He said: “This additional £1.5million from the government to support our Covid-19 costs is welcome, but it doesn’t go far enough.

“The government has committed to supporting some of our income losses such as parking, fees and charges and to helping with the losses on our collection of council tax and business rates, but we have no detail on that at the moment, so we are still very much under financial pressure.”

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The council is forecasting a deficit of £15.3million in the current financial year.

A special executive meeting will be held at the end of July to bring forward some urgent savings proposals to help fill the gap.

Cllr Bell added: “We’ve had a total of £13.4million in government support, including the latest £1.5million, but that leaves a gap of £15.3million so we face some very difficult decisions without further support.

“The harsh reality is that local council finances were not in robust health before coronavirus came along, so the medium-term position is also difficult as the challenges only get worse as we look ahead to future years.

“None of this allows wriggle room for a new lockdown, whether local or national, or for the vital investment our economy needs in recovery and regeneration.

“We are continuing to lobby hard, with our local government colleagues and with the support of our local MPs, for more funding support to help get through this crisis and to deliver a better future.

“Council staff have done an amazing job to navigate through this, keep services running and support our community, but they need to be backed to continue to deliver by real devolution of power and budgets.”