Yorkshire councils get less pandemic emergency funds than Northern counterparts
Yorkshire councils have received less emergency funding to tackle coronavirus than their Northern counterparts, figures show.
Local Government Minister Robert Jenrick has announced an extra £919 million in emergency grants to councils in England.
It is the fourth round of funding the Government has rolled out since March, and brings the total amount awarded to £4.6 billion.
The grants are not ringfenced, so cash-strapped councils under pressure because of the pandemic will be able to use them however they see fit.
Of nine English regions, Yorkshire and the Humber ranks fourth overall for the amount received through the four rounds of funding at £471,543,695 - or £85.30 per person - behind London, the North West and the North East respectively.
Yorkshire's largest local authority area, Leeds, has got £72,167,550 in total over the four rounds, which is £90.71 per head - ranking it at 49th out of 150 unitary or county councils in England.
This compares to places in the North West like Manchester, which ranks at third and has received £117.66 per head.
Leeds City Council deputy leader and executive member for resources, Coun James Lewis, said: “Leeds City Council has been playing a leading role in tackling the Coronavirus pandemic and minimising the effects of the virus for everybody in order to keep the people of Leeds safe.
"However, the reality is that it is becoming harder every day to fight the pandemic unless we are provided with significantly more funding.
“The funding we have been allocated so far is welcome, but does not go anywhere near far enough to address the estimated funding hole which COVID-19 has put in our budget.
“Giving councils tranches of funding means that it is difficult for us to plan and it would be better if the government could offer funding to the end of this financial year. We will continue to engage and speak with government to press the case on behalf of the people of Leeds.”
The coronavirus crisis has created a “perfect storm” for councils’ finances, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), both by increasing spending and reducing incomes.
Local authorities have incurred costs supporting rough sleepers and shielders, buying personal protective equipment (PPE) and helping with test and trace and infection control, while social distancing rules have increased costs of delivering services like social care.
At the same time their income from service charges, council tax and commercial rents has fallen.
Council leaders across the country have welcomed the additional funding, but warned it will not be enough to fully address the financial challenges they face.
Richard Watts, chair of the Local Government Association’s resources board, said: “This much-needed support is helpful but significant challenges remain.
“It is vital that the Government addresses in full the financial challenges facing councils as a result of the pandemic, including all lost income and local tax losses.”
The figures do not include individual support being negotiated by councils moving into Tier 3 restrictions.
The Government says its funding formula takes into account an area’s population size, levels of deprivation, the cost of delivering services in different parts of the country, and how much funding councils received in the previous three rounds.
Mr Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, 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.”
Leeds City Council has been approached to comment.
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