Funding strain on local government during COVID-19 pandemic

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If central government funding is to be of use, councils will need up to four times what has been awarded so far for them to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Local Government Association (LGA).

In a statement on the LGA’s website, Councillor Richard Watts, chair of the LGA’s Resources Board, said: “Local government continues to lead local efforts to beat this virus but is being stretched to the maximum. Many councils continue to face spiralling cost and demand pressures at the same time as seeing a huge drop in income. This is unsustainable.

“Extra funding for councils will be helpful but they will need up to four times the funding they have been allocated by government so far. We are working with councils to provide the most robust evidence to government on the financial challenges they face. Their latest monthly returns should show the impact of a full month of cost pressures and income reductions and the impact of lower council tax and business rates collection rates.”

‘Explicit guarantees’

He added that the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick, had promised councils would receive all the resources they needed to cope with the pandemic’s impact. This, he said, needed to be “explicitly guaranteed and demonstrated with ongoing and consistent funding” in the months ahead.

The Westminster Government has committed funding of a total of £3.2 billion to councils (including those in the devolved administrations).

Announcing the total funding in April, Mr Jenrick said: “Up and down the country council workers are the unsung heroes as we tackle this virus. They are in the front line of the national effort to keep the public safe and deliver the services people need. Never has this been more important and we are all rightly grateful for everything that they are doing.”

Danger of Section 114 reports

However, the LGA says some councils have warned they will soon face the prospect of Section 114 reports, which would mean spending blocks and cuts to vital local services.

Danny Curran, Finders International’s CEO and founder, said: “Our local councils, cash-strapped at the best of times, have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disproportionately affected already vulnerable members of our population.

“We work closely with councils in the UK, providing free services to help ease some of the burdens they face. We can find next of kin in cases where people appear to have died without next of kin, and we would encourage local governments to get in touch with us so we can help out.”

Free services for the public sector

Finders International’s free public sector services include:

  • No known next of kin—when someone dies with no known next of kin, we will identify and locate family for the public sector and coroners, free of charge
  • Empty homes—tracing the owners, or their next of kin, of empty homes
  • Training and support—training and presentation on deputyship development
  • Family tree verification—in all heir location situations so the next of kin can be correctly identified
  • Finders International funeral fund—a subsidy payment towards the cost of Public Health Act (PHA) funerals in cases where there genuinely are no known next of kin
  • Insurance with Aviva—missing beneficiary insurance policies that help protect councils should another heir to an estate come to light post the distribution of a will.

Please contact Finders International on +44 (0)20 7490 4935 or freephone (UK only) 0800 085 8796 to discuss the free services we offer. Alternatively, you can email [email protected]