October 22nd, 2020.

Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick has today confirmed allocations for individual councils from the £1 billion of additional support announced by the Prime Minister earlier this month.

Over £900 million of this funding will be provided to councils for their ongoing work to support communities during the pandemic, and it brings the total funding provided directly to councils during the pandemic so far to £6.4 billion. This includes £4.6 billion in unringfenced funding, £1.1 billion from the Infection Control Fund, £300 million to support Test and Trace as well as funding allocated to councils from the new Local Alert Level system and a number of grants to support communities and vulnerable people. Councils can also claim funding through a compensation scheme for lost income from sales, fees and charges.

To address the ongoing challenges local authority leisure centres are facing, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has also confirmed today £100 million will be used to introduce a new fund which will support council leisure centres most in need. Further details on the scheme will be set out shortly.

Local Government Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said: "Since the start of the pandemic, we have backed local councils with the funding they need to support their communities, protect vital services and recover lost income.

"This extra £1 billion funding will ensure that councils have the resources that they need over the winter and continue to play an essential role on the front line of our response to the virus while protecting the most vulnerable and supporting local businesses."

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: "It’s vital that we keep ourselves fighting fit through the winter months and local authority leisure centres are crucial to this. This £100 million fund will help keep leisure centres across the country open. I urge leisure centres to bid for the money and people to make the most of these precious local facilities."

Spending pressure funding has been allocated based on levels of population and deprivation, whilst also considering the amount of funding each council has received from the government so far. All councils will receive a minimum of £100,000.

Recognising that councils are best placed to decide how to meet pressures in their local area, this funding has not been ringfenced. The government has asked councils to use this funding to prioritise the running of vital services and protecting the most vulnerable and public health.

Commenting on the announcement, James MacCleary, Leader of Lewes District Council said: “I’m sure no one will be falling for this, but once again the government have dreamt up a big sounding number that they know goes nowhere near covering the cost of Covid-19 to this or any other council.

“Council staff have gone above and beyond throughout the Covid-19 crisis and this latest derisory handout makes a mockery of the government’s promise to meet the costs incurred by councils.”

Zoe Nicholson, Deputy Leader and Cabinet member for Finance added: “The piec meal approach to supporting councils to deliver essential services is like a slow motion car crash, at the same time, local businesses and residents struggle to pay their bills.

“We remain committed to delivering the best quality service we can for our residents, but unless longer term spending promises are honoured by government, next year looks deeply uncertain.”
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