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NALC chairman calls on local government minister to provide financial support

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The chairman of the National Association of Local Councils (NALC), Cllr Sue Baxter, has made strong representations directly to a local government minister, Simon Clarke MP, on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on local (parish and town) council finances, urging him to introduce a financial support package.

This latest plea to help those local councils whose finances have been most impacted came in their first meeting since Mr Clarke was given responsibility for local government at the end of April.

NALC’s research into the financial impact of coronavirus on local councils shows a significant financial impact for some local councils, larger councils such as town councils in particular, who generate a substantial amount of their income from non-precept sources. Lost income and additional costs for the first quarter of the year are reported to be in the region of £40m and £13m respectively.

Without government support, NALC has warned this will lead to reduced or stopped services and projects, increases to council tax, damaged relations between tiers of local government, and a potential threat to opportunities for further devolution including onward devolution.

Cllr Sue Baxter, chairman of NALC, said: “I was pleased to have my first meeting with the new local government minister and hear first-hand his recognition of the role local councils have played in the response. He also reaffirmed the huge potential of our sector to be even more integral to communities, saying he and the government were ‘big fans’, which I welcome.

“But to ensure local councils can play that enhanced role, the impact of the pandemic on some councils places that at risk and targeted support is desperately needed. Which is why I strongly urged the minister to ensure the financial impact on local councils is being fully considered and to bring forward proposals to help, especially for the most affected councils.

“Local councils must be at the heart of building back stronger and more resilient communities, and the right support now will ensure their future role can be enhanced to support the government’s devolution and community empowerment agenda. As the first tier of local government, local councils were first to step up but now the last line for support, and I understand frustrations by councils who say we in danger of becoming the forgotten sector.”

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