The Mayor of Bristol has called on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to underwrite the true costs of the pandemic and recognise the value of public services in leading the frontline response.
Addressing the major financial burden placed on Bristol City Council, Mayor Marvin Rees urged the Government to deliver on its commitment to provide local authorities with the resources they need to meet the enormous economic challenge ahead.
Writing to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Mayor Rees highlighted the estimated £80m loss expected from the local authority’s commercial and regulated income during lockdown. This is money that underpins the council’s ability to fund critical frontline services.
This longer term loss is in addition to the expected £29m cost of Bristol City Council’s response to Covid-19. Bristol has received a total of £26.5m from £3.2bn of Government funding allocated to councils nationally.
Mayor Rees called on the Government to reconsider its approach and introduce a fairer model of funding to protect the young, elderly and most vulnerable.
The Mayor explained that without a model that considers factors such as the demand for frontline services like adult and children social services, domestic abuse services and other critical help, the most vulnerable in society will continue to bear the greatest impact of Covid-19 for many years to come.
Mayor Rees said: “In Bristol, working in partnership with the NHS, police, volunteers, communities and city partners, we’re protecting the vulnerable, keeping essential services running and coordinating an unprecedented volunteer effort. We have:
- Delivered over 1,000 emergency food parcels and set up four foodbanks
- Launched the We Are Bristol telephone helpline to support vulnerable people
- Distributing £88m to support our local businesses
- Secured beds for hundreds of homeless citizens.
“We’ll continue to work hard to sustain this frontline response, but we’re mindful of the prominent role we could be playing in supporting the economic recovery, helping our communities and businesses get back on their feet. Councils like Bristol cannot lead the local efforts with one arm tied behind their backs. The government package so far is wholly inadequate and disappointing given the commitment to provide councils with the resources required during this crisis.
“It is too early to indicate when, or if, the council’s finances will recover. The crisis has shown the value of public services and therefore the Government must act quickly to put in place a package of support that truly reflects the financial pressures we’re faced with and the vital role councils play in rebuilding the economy.”
Read the full letter here.