West Berkshire Council is to receive additional funding following an announcement by the Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP.
Within the next few weeks, the Council will receive a proportion of an extra £1.6bn which has been earmarked for Local Authorities to help them respond to the impact of the Coronavirus within their communities.
West Berkshire Council has already received £3.2 million from Central Government in March to support its initial response to the Coronavirus. This additional funding will assist in covering further costs that the Council is facing due to the virus in the short term and, along with the Council’s strong financial management, is enabling the Council to continue to provide vital services to support its residents.
Speaking about the additional funding, Leader of West Berkshire Council, Lynne Doherty said:
“At the start of this outbreak I, along with Council Leaders across the country, asked the Government to reassure us that they would provide us with all of the financial support that we might need to respond effectively within our local areas. I am pleased to say that they have not let us down.
“The Government’s swift response enabled us to quickly set up our new Community Support Hub (CSH), ahead of the enhanced social distancing arrangements that came into place on 23 March. The CSH is the vital link between those residents who need support and those who can help them. Through it we have already helped hundreds of vulnerable local people and have coordinated almost 90 community groups across the district.
“In addition to this money, we have been provided with up-front grant payments to support cash flow, a Council Tax Hardship Fund and additional funding for the cost of providing support to rough sleepers and those as risk of rough sleeping during this time.
“To mitigate some of the impact on our business community, we also made the unique local decision not to call-in business rates in April and May and our Business Rates Team has been working hard to distribute a further £29 million Government grant to support eligible businesses in West Berkshire.
“I am truly impressed with how agile the local authority has been, with staff stepping up to help in numerous ways both behind the scenes and on the front line. This further funding is very welcome and I can assure residents that we will continue to deliver the excellent local services our residents need.”