The Liberal Democrats are at the forefront of cross party calls for urgent additional funding for local authorities going “above and beyond” in their response to the COVID-19 crisis.
In a letter to the Chancellor and Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, the cross party group of more than 20 MPs highlight the pressures cash-strapped councils are under, with a funding shortfall of £5 billion at a time when they are being asked to rapidly scale up support for the most vulnerable.
The letter raises concerns about the “fear and anxiety” of councillors on the ground, and calls on the Government to “bridge the gap” in funding as a matter of urgency, to protect the services and support communities rely on.
Tim Farron, Liberal Democrat Local Government spokesperson said:
“From day one, local authorities have stepped up to deliver local support through the COVID-19 crisis. They have gone above and beyond, from efforts to source protective equipment for frontline workers, to supplying emergency food packages to distributing business grants and so much more. These efforts have helped protect some of the most vulnerable, and they must continue.
“Local Authorities cannot keep going on a shoestring budget. The shortfall many are already facing is substantial and growing. Without an emergency cash injection, and a long-term sustainable funding plan, the lifelines offered by local authorities will no longer exist. Our communities will suffer enormously as a result.
“That is why we are calling on the Government to commit to a sufficient long term funding settlement for councils as an immediate priority. This is the only way to ensure our councils can keep vital services running through the current crisis and in the future.
"We are enormously grateful to those on the frontline, for example working in social care, but the tragic reality is the social care system will collapse if our local councils are not there to fund it.”