20 April 2020
Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole's Green councillors Simon Bull and Chris Rigby have joined other Green councillors across the country in signing an open letter to Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick to demand emergency and longer-term funding to enable local authorities to continue to support communities during the coronavirus crisis.
The letter warns councils could lose up to half of their spending power this year if the lockdown were to last for just three months.
It also calls for local authorities to be given more flexibility to decide on how funds are spent, as they are best-placed to see where the real need is and how it can be tackled.
The letter has been sent by the Association of Green Councillors on behalf of councillors from across 120 councils, including Green Party co-leaders Sian Berry and Jonathan Bartley.
Councillor Simon Bull, who has represented Winton East in Bournemouth since 2015, said: "BCP Council has reacted to the needs of the residents in this crisis and faces a huge hole in its finances through lost income and additional costs. The government must step up and support councils across the country that have endured years of cuts and are at breaking point."
Sian Berry, a Green Party councillor on Camden Council, said: “Several weeks into the lockdown and with the increased demand caused by the crisis it is clear that the initial funding the government has already announced for local authorities is simply nowhere near enough.
“Councils are stepping up and providing vital services to our communities.Vulnerable people are relying upon them for a rapid increase in support. But, after a decade of cuts and in the face of lost income as a result of the crisis, budgets are rapidly reaching breaking point.
“We urge the government to act immediately so that we can continue to do this essential work and not add further strain to the NHS and other essential services.”
The letter highlights the level of resources already being committed to emergency support by Lewes District Council, where the Green Party are in co-operative administration. In that authority, food packs provided to those not covered by the medically shielded programme has already cost £1 per head of population in the first three weeks.