Havering MPs and Council leader react to government funding boost of almost £4million
PUBLISHED: 16:00 30 October 2020
Political figures in the borough have reacted to the news that Havering is set to receive an additional £3,730,000 to continue providing vital services during coronavirus.
The funding — confirmed by local government and communities secretary, Robert Jenrick MP late last week — means that councils have received £6.4billion in additional direct support since April.
Andrew Rosindell and Julia Lopez, MPs for Romford and Hornchurch and Upminster respectively, have embraced the funding, which is not ringfenced.
Mr Rosindell described the injection as “hugely welcome”, particularly with the area subject to Tier 2 status. “While I understand how important it is to fight the virus, we must get our economy moving again. The only way to secure long-term funding for our councils, and for our wider public services is to get back to work.”
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Ms Lopez echoed those sentiments, and similarly, believes it’s important that the council has the licence to spend according to the needs of the borough.
She said: “As regions and local authorities have been impacted differently by coronavirus it is right that local authorities should be empowered to craft local responses.”
Leader of Havering Council councillor Damian White — set to be one of those involved in deciding how best to distribute this funding — reiterated that the boost is “of course very welcome”.
However, he followed up with a note of caution, warning that this injection does not allay the council’s money worries: “The council is already facing a £31m overspend due to Covid-19 budget pressures. It still leaves a predicted funding gap of £7.6m to be met from the council’s own general reserves in the current financial year.”
The leader added that this latest funding takes the total received by the council during the pandemic to just under £19.4m; it hopes to receive “at least a further £4m to partially reflect our losses in fees and charges due to Covid-19 over the financial year”.
One bonus of the funding, according to Cllr White, is that it provides the “financial flexibility” which has allowed the council to continue offering free school meals, both during this half term and the upcoming Christmas holidays.
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