Councillors to lobby Secretary of State with funding letter
Telford & Wrekin Council has implored Secretary of State for Local Government Robert Jenrick MP to provide adequate funding for all local councils to help them cope with the cost pressures caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The letter signed by council leader Councillor Shaun Davies and cabinet member Councillor Paul Watling has been sent in support of an earlier letter to the minister from the Shropshire Association of Local Councils.
It has been sparked by concerns caused by the content of a letter Mr Jenrick has sent to Town and Parish Councils which suggests that upper tier councils like Telford & Wrekin could make some of the £1.6 billion funding provided to councils nationally by government available to lower tier councils.
The letter points out: “The calculation of this grant was based on expenditure and income pressures faced solely by the principal council.
“At no point…was information on the pressures faced by Town & Parish Councils sought or even referred to by you.”
The councillors also stress that the last 10 years of austerity have forced the authority to deliver £123m per year of ongoing budget savings.
This has been exacerbated this year by incurring significant additional costs due to storms Ciara and Dennis and the consequent flooding in the Ironbridge Gorge.
Councillors Davies and Watling’s letter calls on Mr Jenrick to support all requests made by SALC because the government funding to Telford & Wrekin Council is “inadequate” and only covers a third of anticipated cost pressures caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
SALC’s requests include:
•Setting up a Parish Council Hardship Fund available to those who have significant funding shortfalls and no other reserves available to support the delivery of services.
•Extending the Business Rate Relief that is available to Retail, Hospitality and Leisure businesses to those Councils who run markets, carparks and sorting facilities
•Extending the Business Grants up to the Parish & Town Council sector
•Relaxing regulations in relation to the use of capital receipts so that Councils can make use of such ring-fenced sums in their accounts.
•Introducing mechanisms for easy short-term financing for parish councils which does not have the rigour of the current Loan Sanction process that the County Associations manage.
•Setting up a Town Recovery Fund that all tiers of Local Government can access to bring life back into our towns.”
Councillors Davies and Watling added: “Failure by the Government to provide adequate support to both Parish & Town Councils but also to councils such as Telford & Wrekin who are actively trying to support our residents and business community to the very best of our ability will result in even greater long-term damage to our residents, local economy and wider communities.”