“At the start of the pandemic, Ealing Council was told by Government that we would have the resources we needed to do the job. Since then, councils have led the way and worked around the clock to protect local communities. Now, we need to be paid for the work done or the people of Ealing will be left to pick up the bill,” said Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, cabinet member for leisure and finance.
It has cost Ealing Council £65million to contain COVID-19; more than £30million on extra services to support key workers and vulnerable residents and around £34million in lost income, such as council tax, parking charges and business rates.
So far, the Government has only given Ealing £26million. This leaves a staggering £39million hole in our budget for this year.
The government recently announced further funding for local government. The detail of Ealing’s share of this package of support is still unclear, but its unlikely that it will bridge the gap and supply the funding that’s needed.
Coping with a second wave
Councillor Mahfouz continued: “This unpaid bill comes on a top of more than a decade of cuts to our government grant. We’ve lost £143million since austerity began and now get two-thirds less than we did before. This means for ever £1 we used to get in government grant funding, we now get just 36p.
“Our Future Ealing programme meant that, despite the challenges, we were doing a good job of managing our money and were on course to balance our budget this year. But there is no wriggle room there and we are all really worried about what services we might have to cut if the Government doesn’t pay.
“I am also very concerned about how we will cope if there is a second wave and we have to once again provide the level of support that we have been giving local people over the last 12 weeks. If the Government doesn’t pay, we will be heading into a second wave in a much weaker position.”
The council has started a campaign called #PayYourBill. It is asking residents to help it lobby Government to keep its promise. Residents are asked to
- Look at our webpage www.ealing.gov.uk/keepyourpromise and download an editable letter and send it to Robert Jenrick MP, the Secretary of State for Housing and Local Communities
- Share our video on social media
- Tweet @robertjenrick and @borisjohnson and them to #KeepYourPromise and #PayYourBill
Councillor Mahfouz said: “We need residents to help us to get the message across. With COVID-19 hitting communities so hard, local services are more important than ever. The Government must keep its promise and pay its bill.”