North Yorkshire council chief welcomes additional Government funding

Cllr Carl Les.

North Yorkshire County Council has welcomed an additional £1.6bn in Government funding announced for councils to help with rapidly escalating costs to meet the challenges of the Covid-19 crisis.

The authority, which says it has made clear to Government in recent days the pressing financial challenges created by the pandemic, will learn of its individual allocation next week.

“We greatly appreciate that Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government has been listening to us,” said Cllr Carl Les, North Yorkshire County Council’s leader.

“He has taken on board that we urgently need additional funding for the crucial role we are playing in pulling communities together and building trust among people to fight the pandemic and for that we are thankful.”

The county council was asked to submit an estimate of costs as a result of Covid-19.

This return showed that the council’s finances would be £65m worse than had been anticipated before the pandemic.

While £15m had been provided by government as additional grant, that still left a shortfall of £50m.

The council says it has worked rapidly to transform services to meet the crisis, setting up emergency school hubs for the children of critical workers, supporting the NHS and care providers to cope with their increased costs, sourcing additional PPE, coordinating an army of volunteers and creating a new way of working for frontline social care teams.

“We don’t yet know the size of this additional allocation for the County Council but this extra funding will undoubtedly help to bridge the gap,” said Cllr Les.

“Nevertheless we still face massive financial challenges and we estimated that the original allocation of £15m of grant for Covid-19 needed to be quadrupled to deal with the estimated costs.”

Even before this crisis the authority says it desperately needed clarity around long-term funding solutions, particularly for adult social care and special educational needs, in the face of unrelenting demand.

North Yorkshire’s financial planning has been dependent on nearly £62 million of temporary funding after the Council lost around £136 million in direct grants from government since 2011 when austerity began.

Together with the overall savings North Yorkshire has had to deliver and the rise in demand the council’s spending power has been reduced by 40 per cent.

“The whole of North Yorkshire is pulling together to meet this unprecedented challenge and we are doing everything we can to keep people well and safe and to support the NHS,” said Cllr Les.

“But we were already operating with reduced spending power so there is no doubt that we like many other councils, will need supportive and long-term partnership with Government for the crucial role we play and to see this crisis through.”