Pandemic Estimated to Have Cost Hounslow Borough £28.5 Million
Council leader says government cash will not be enough to cover shortfall
Coronavirus has cost Hounslow Council an estimated £28.5 million so far as the borough has stepped up services to protect residents from the virus.
The council has revealed that work responding to the pandemic has hiked costs by £10 million, while it has lost £18.5 million of its income as of this month (May)
Hounslow Council was awarded a total £14 million from the government to help provide key services during the crisis, out of a £3.2 billion budget for local authorities.
Hounslow Council leader Steve Curran, however, said the cash boost will not be enough to manage the long-term hit.
“It’s our duty to keep delivering for our communities, and we’re proud to do it, but the Government needs to deliver on its promise to fully fund the public services necessary to keep people supported through the difficult weeks and months to come,” he said.
“The financial aid received so far is welcome, but not enough to ensure we can manage the longer term impact. We need a commitment from the Government that it will meet all the extra costs and the income loss councils are facing due to coronavirus.”
And he added: “As we continue to face the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, Hounslow Council, like other councils across London and the country, is taking every step to protect and support our most vulnerable residents, help struggling businesses and keep providing the vital services on which our residents rely.
“Our staff have been going above and beyond for weeks to support the council’s work in responding to this crisis.”
The neighbouring borough of Ealing has also revealed it believes it will take a £52 million hit and council leader Julian Bell has written to the Prime Minister urging the government to keep its initial promise to reimburse councils for the pandemic’s costs.
A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesperson said, “Council workers are the unsung heroes as we tackle this pandemic and by providing councils with over £3.2 billion in the fairest way possible we’re working with them to tackle the immediate pressures they have told us they’re facing.
“Ealing and Hounslow councils will between them receive a total of £32.9 million funding of this to deal with the pressures of coronavirus, while their core spending power rose by £29.8 million this financial year even before additional emergency funding was announced.
“The Government will continue to work closely with councils as the pandemic progresses.”
Anahita Hossein-Pour - Local Democracy Reporter
May 7, 2020