IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Town Hall leader: It’s tight but we won’t go bust

Islington Council faces a £24m bill for extra services required in coronavirus crisis, and has lost £50m in income

26 June, 2020 — By Sam Ferguson

Councillor Richard Watts: ‘We urgently need clear guarantees from the government that it will fulfil its promise and close the funding gap’

ISLINGTON’S leader says the council should be able to stave off bankruptcy, despite growing financial pressures caused by the coronavirus crisis and warnings from around the country that some local authorities risk going bust.

But Councillor Richard Watts warned adult social care services could suffer if no more money comes from central government.

The council is facing a £24million bill for extra services required by the response to the health emergency, and has lost £50m in income from rents, rates and tax.

The government has so far provided £16m extra funding to the borough.

Cllr Watts said: “Like many other councils, we are facing rising costs and increased demand whilst also experiencing a huge drop in income as a result of the pandemic.”

“We urgently need clear guarantees from the government that it will fulfil its promise and close the funding gap, otherwise the government will be choosing to cut frontline services and local people will inevitably suffer.

“Without this additional funding, Islington and many other councils will be forced to make difficult decisions around the provision of vital services.

“Social care accounts for a significant proportion of what councils spend, and without additional funding the task of providing high-quality care to those that need it most will become even more challenging.

Finance chief Councillor Satnam Gill previously told the Tribune the council could have to borrow money to make up a £36million black hole in the accounts. It went into the crisis with around £10million in reserves.

When asked by the BBC shared Data Unit, Islington Council said it could not foresee itself being in a position where it has to file for bankruptcy.

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