Exeter’s Green councillor, Diana Moore, has joined 346 other Green Party councillors from 120 councils across the country to demand emergency and longer-term funding for local authorities so they can continue to support communities during the coronavirus crisis.
The open letter to Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick warns that councils could lose up to half of their spending power this year if the lockdown lasts three months. Earlier this week the government announced an additional £1.6bn in funding to deal with the corona virus crisis. However, in the previous round of funding for local authorities – also £1.6bn – Exeter received only £74,000. The council has also lost significant income from car parking charges. During the first two weeks of the lockdown, income from car parking all but dried up, falling from a budgeted £331,000 to an actual £11,000.
Cllr Diana Moore said:
“It is clear that the initial funding the government announced for local authorities was nowhere near adequate. We can only hope that district councils like Exeter fare better out of the latest funding round. This is particularly vital in the face of lost income as a result of the crisis. Budgets here and in other local authorities are rapidly reaching breaking point.
“Exeter City Council faces serious financial problems following the coronavirus crisis, especially as it comes on top of a decade of deeply damaging austerity cuts. The long-term financial position looks equally bleak with serious risks to essential services, which will be needed more than ever now.
“The government must ensure that Exeter City Council and councils up and down the country can continue to carry out essential work in supporting our communities, especially since they are at the front line of the response to the corona virus crisis.”