“Vital” public services could face cuts unless the Government covers the cost of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, the Labour Group has warned.
The full cost of dealing with the impact of Covid-19 – including responding to the outbreak and a loss of income – has been estimated as “in the region of £68 million” by Enfield Council’s finance chief.
Council leader Cllr Nesil Caliskan and cabinet member for finance and procurement Cllr Mary Maguire have written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson warning the council faces “extreme financial pressure”.
The Government has so far given councils £3.2 billion to help them respond to coronavirus pressures, with Enfield receiving £17.9 million of these emergency payments.
But the Labour councillors asked for assurances that the Government will meet the full cost of the outbreak, claiming the money so far received “amounts to a quarter of what we have spent or lost in income”.
The letter, dated April 30, states: “If Enfield Council does not receive adequate recompense of our Covid-19 related costs from Government, we will have little choice but to cut vital public services.
“This will further weaken what is already a very fragile situation on the ground at a time when demand for our services and support will remain at its highest in the community.”
The £68 million figure includes the costs “of scaling up existing activity and financing new activity in response to the crisis”, the letter states.
It also includes the loss of income from fees and charges, council tax receipts and retained business rates.
Cllrs Caliskan and Maguire add: “Councils should be supported by Government to recover the full cost of investment made and loss of income incurred as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.
“This would allow us to retain financial resilience and assist in leading our borough into the post Covid-19 recovery phase. A stable local government sector will be vital to securing the long-term recovery of the nation.”
The council leader said she invited the leader of the Enfield Conservative Group, Cllr Joanne Laban, to co-sign the letter to the Prime Minster, but she declined to do so.
Cllr Laban said she would contact the Prime Minister separately on the issue of council funding.
In a letter sent to council leaders on April 20, minister for regional growth and local government Simon Clarke MP outlined steps the Government is taking to support them through the crisis.
He said the Government had deferred £2.6 billion in local authority payments of the central share of retained business rates and brought forward £850 million of social care grants.
It comes on top of a £1.8 billion grant to compensate for existing business rates reliefs, which was paid on March 27.
Mr Clarke added: “I hope you agree that collectively this support demonstrates the Government’s commitment to making sure you have the resources you need to support your communities through this challenging time.
“I will continue to work with you over the coming weeks and months as we all work to fight the pandemic, and return our economy and society to happier times.”
The Prime Minister’s Office was approached for comment.