Extra £3million to help Northumberland through pandemic

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Northumberland County Council has received more than £3million in the latest tranche of Covid cash from the Government.

On Thursday, October 22, Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick confirmed allocations for individual councils from the £1billion of additional support announced by the Prime Minister earlier in the month.

Northumberland’s share is £3.16million, taking the total across the four handouts during the pandemic so far to £25million.

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Cllr Nick Oliver, the council’s cabinet member for corporate services, said: “The extra £3.16million is incredibly welcome. Like everywhere else in the country, Northumberland’s finances have been hit as a result of this pandemic.

Coun Nick Oliver, the cabinet member for corporate services at Northumberland County CouncilCoun Nick Oliver, the cabinet member for corporate services at Northumberland County Council
Coun Nick Oliver, the cabinet member for corporate services at Northumberland County Council

“As a council, our priority has been to protect jobs and livelihoods, but we’re also focused on ensuring quality council services have been maintained.

“With initiatives like Northumberland Communities Together, we have gone above other councils in ensuring that Northumberland residents don’t suffer more than they have to.”

The funding has not been ring-fenced, with the Government asking councils to use it to prioritise the running of vital services, protecting the most vulnerable and public health.

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Northumberland’s allocation was less than half of the £7.1million for Newcastle this time round despite the city having a smaller population. The Government said funding was allocated ‘based on levels of population and deprivation, while also considering the amount of funding each council has received so far’.

In September, we reported that Northumberland County Council was anticipating a £37.4million hit to this year’s budget due to Covid-19, more than a tenth of its annual spend.

Taking into account the Government grants, a £4million underspend on ‘business as usual’ areas and other income changes, the authority was therefore forecasting a £9.34million overspend this year. The latest tranche of funding would reduce that figure to £6.18million.

Cllr Richard Watts, chair of the resources board for the Local Government Association, which represents councils, said: “This much-needed support is helpful, but significant challenges remain.

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“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.”

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