Councils in England will receive an extra £1.6 billion in funding to help them cope with the coronavirus crisis, the government has announced.
It is hoped that the new funding would mean councils can continue to provide vital services, including adult social care, fire and rescue, and children’s services.
Councils will also be allowed to defer £2.6 billion in payments to central government and £850 million in social care grants will be paid up front this month in a move aimed at helping to ease immediate pressures on local authority cash flows.
The announcement takes the total amount of cash which has been pledged to councils to help their communities through the crisis to over £3.2 billion.
Making the announcement on Saturday, Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick said: I promised local government would have the resources they need to meet this challenge and today demonstrates my commitment to doing just that. We stand shoulder to shoulder with local government and my priority is to make sure they are supported so they can continue to support their communities through this challenging time.
“This new funding will support them through immediate pressures they are facing to respond to coronavirus and protect vital services.”
An initial £1.6bn was given to councils last month to enable local authorities to support homeless people and help strengthen care for vulnerable people.
The County Councils Network said this funding has largely been “swallowed up” by councils paying social care providers higher fees to meet increases in their costs, particularly for agency staff and personal protective equipment.
But the United Kingdom Home Care Association (UKHCA) has warned that much of the funding has failed to reach the frontline.
“Local Authorities have been given the money – it’s sitting in their bank accounts. But they don’t want to send it out to providers for reasons best known to themselves,” UKHCA chief executive Jane Townson said in an interview with home care software supplier, CarePlanner.
“Some of [the £1.6bn] has got to be used for homelessness, but the bulk of it should be for frontline social care services. How much of it has actually made its way to any social care providers yet? Virtually none. And that’s what we’re spending most of our time trying to sort out.”
Data collected by the organisation from 81 councils shows that around 60% had failed to increase their funding to even cover the rise of the National Living Wage that came into effect on April 1.