Layla Moran, Lib Dem MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, has today written to the Communities Secretary to warn him that many district councils “need emergency funding” to make up for their “loss of income” from sources including business rates and council tax due to coronavirus.
Layla heard from multiple district council leaders about their concerns. The Government’s “welcome” extra funding already announced for councils “is focused on extra expenditure that needs to be made”, the MP wrote, highlighting that the main danger by contrast for ‘tier 2’ councils was loss of income from key sources, including:
- Falls in council tax income (as more people qualify for council tax reduction)
- Decline in business rate revenue
- A significant drop in planning fee income
- A drying-up of car parking fees during the lockdown
Layla wrote “This situation needs to be addressed urgently … any gap in funding needed to address this crisis needs to be dealt with now.”
Commenting, Layla said:
“Our district councils need emergency funding from the Government to ensure they can continue to serve their communities, both during this crisis and in the long term.
“The Government’s funding for local authorities so far is of course very welcome, and I hope Robert Jenrick will be addressing this issue for district councils as a priority.
“Our district councils are on the frontline of the response to this virus, and it’s so important we protect them so they can continue to serve our communities when this crisis is over.”
8 April 2020
I hope you are well, and that you’re able to stay safe at this time.
I am writing to you to raise concerns regarding the availability of emergency coronavirus funding for ‘tier 2’ local authorities, such as district councils. Of course, the funding boost for authorities is very much welcome, however we need to make sure that all local authorities are getting the funds they need to operate sustainably through this crisis.
Some leaders of district councils have informed me that they are concerned they’re not receiving the funding they need in order to adequately deal with COVID-19 response. The Government’s additional money is focused on extra expenditure that needs to be made and not income that will be lost as a result of coronavirus, meaning that tier 2 authorities are not receiving the funding to make up the shortfall they are now experiencing.
This loss of income for district councils includes falls in council tax income (as more people lose their jobs and qualify for reduction), money from business rates, planning fee income and car parking fees. Our district councils are on the frontline of the response to this virus, and we need to make sure they are receiving the funds from central government to reflect this.
This situation needs to be addressed urgently. Could the Government please look into ring-fencing a proportion of emergency funding for tier 2 authorities? I understand that this is an issue in some communities, and not in others. However, any gap in funding needed to address this crisis needs to be dealt with now, as I’m sure you’ll agree.
Thank you for everything you’re already doing to help deal with this pandemic, and I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest possible convenience.
Layla Moran MP
Member of Parliament for Oxford West and Abingdon