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Islington ‘misses out on millions’ in virus help

Claims government has failed to provide for ‘real need’ by sending extra funding to ‘stockbroker belt’

29 May, 2020 — By Calum Fraser

Cllr Satnam Gill: ‘They have managed to twist it so that they didn’t take into account social care costs’

THE government has been accused of funnelling the latest round Covid-19 funding to wealthier “stock-broker-belt” councils as inner-city boroughs miss out on millions.

Ministers have allocated £3.2billion in two rounds of funding to councils in England to help them cope with the fall in income and rise in demand due to the coronavirus crisis.

But Islington has received £2.3million less in the second round of funding, according to analysis conducted by the Labour Party, which says the ministry for local government changed its criteria for calculating how much went to each council.

The first £1.6billion national pot was allocated to councils by measuring adult social care needs and general poverty levels, while the second pot was distributed purely on a “per capita” basis which just looks at the population numbers.

“They have managed to twist it so that they didn’t take into account social care costs,” the Town Hall’s finance chief Councillor Satnam Gill said.

“If the Tories want to give their friends a bit more money they are providing funding on a per capita basis, that way the counties and the stockbroker belt gets more money.”

He added: “Inner-city boroughs like Camden and Islington have more people that require state aid.

“We have a lot more elderly, we have a lot more disabled and more people who need support in many different ways with mental health issues.

“If you calculate it purely on the basis of population then more populous areas like Surrey or Bromley will get more money, but they have wealthier individuals living there. It’s not a reflection of the real need in a particular area.”

So far, the government has given Islington council £15.6m in its two payments.

The council also received more than £57million to cover small business grants.

As the Tribune previously reported, the council is considering cutting as much as 20 per cent off its social care budget as it faces a £40million black hole in its finances.

Cllr Gill said: “What is significant is that as a whole the funding is nowhere near enough to cover the costs. The overall amount is not covering the overall costs.”

Housing and local government secretary Robert Jenrick has previously said that the government would “would stand behind councils and give them the funding they need”.

A ministry for local gov­ern­ment spokesman said: “The suggestion we have chosen to favour certain councils over others is entirely wrong. By providing councils with over £3.2billion in the fairest way possible we’re working with them to tackle the immediate pressures they have told us they’re facing.”

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