Coronavirus: Councils in England given an extra £1.6bn to tackle COVID-19 crisis

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Councils across England are to be given an extra £1.6bn in funding to deal with the coronavirus emergency after complaints from local authorities that services could suffer.

Housing secretary secretary Robert Jenrick said the extra money will boost the backing councils have received to cope with the pandemic to £3.2bn.

An extra £300m will go to devolved administrations, with Scotland getting £155m, Wales £95m, and Northern Ireland £50m.

At the Downing Street briefing, Mr Jenrick said: “We are also helping councils with inevitable cash flow challenges by deferring £2.6bn in business rate payments to central government, and paying them £850m in social care grants upfront this month.

“Working with councils and charities, we have made huge progress in protecting the most vulnerable during this national emergency.”

In a letter to Mr Jenrick before the extra funding was announced, the LGA said “radical action” to prevent councils “rationing spending” was needed

The organisation said that unless more funding was received, the situation would end up “harming both the long-term continuity of existing services and the COVID-19 response at a time when both are so vitally needed, something we all wish to avoid”.

Meanwhile, Mr Jenrick said he had “made it clear” to councils that all parks must remain open after some closed their gates in recent weeks.

But he warned people must abide by social-distancing rules, and not congregate in the green spaces.

He said lockdown measures were harder for those without gardens or open spaces and that “people need parks”, saying they needed to be accessible for “the health of the nation”.

Mr Jenrick also told councils to keep cemeteries open to allow families to grieve for their loved ones.

He pointed to the death of 13-year-old Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab, from Brixton, who died after contracting COVID-19.

He said the tragedy was compounded after the family could not attend his funeral.

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