Newham finance chief describes £4m boost to town hall coffers as ‘peanuts’
PUBLISHED: 07:12 20 July 2020
A £4million boost to shore up town hall coffers hit by the coronavirus pandemic has been described as “peanuts”.
Newham Council’s cabinet chief for finance, Cllr Terry Paul, welcomed the £4,003,375 share of a £500m pot for local authorities from central government, but added it wasn’t as much as the borough needs.
Cllr Paul, speaking on July 16 at the first full council meeting since March, said: “The government still hasn’t played its part and its role in giving us the money we wanted.”
He added that while the government has listened to overtures from Newham, the council still felt the share signalled an “unfair” sharing of the money.
“This falls significantly short of the money we need to deal with the issues of Covid,” Cllr Paul said.
Newham had estimated it could be in line for £3m to £3.5m in the third tranche of funding released by Westminster. However, the £4m announced represents the second highest amount given in the capital and 4.6 per cent of the total for London. It is 0.8pc of the total for England.
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It compares to £4,138,383 given to neighbouring Tower Hamlets; £2,373,111 to Redbridge and £2,452,177 for Barking and Dagenham.
The amounts dished out per local authority were arrived at through a weighted combination of population and deprivation, adjusted for labour and premises costs.
Newham’s £4m share brings its extra funding total to £24,199,162.
The money is part of a package of government support aimed at helping town halls respond to the pandemic. It includes a scheme to help councils recover lost income, including from car parks and museums.
The total of government funding for councils is £4.3billion. Of that, £3.7bn is not ringfenced, meaning local authorities can choose how to spend it.
Local government secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said: “Councils are playing a vital role in our national fight against coronavirus, providing a lifeline for so many communities at a time when they need it most.”
However, the Labour councillor said of the £4m: “This figure is still not enough money and is peanuts to the real money we need.”
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