Financial impact of Covid-19

Tuesday 21 April 2020

 

Milton Keynes Council has started planning how to deal with the financial impact of coronavirus, which despite extra funding from central Government could still run into millions of pounds.

The Council has been working hard to co-ordinate extra money into teams who have experienced a spike in demand from vulnerable local people, such as home care and benefits; for emergency essentials such as rough sleeper accommodation and PPE (personal protective equipment); and for special projects such as developing Food Bank Xtra for families in food crisis.

While the initial focus has been to respond to the immediate needs presented by the emergency, the authority will also look at the longer-term impact of the pandemic on council finances, and estimate the additional pressures it will likely face as more individuals and families look to it for help with welfare support, housing and other needs.

Milton Keynes Council has received £6m to date as its share of the initial £1.6bn announced by the Government for local councils to help respond to the crisis and run essential services. On 18 April the Local Government Secretary confirmed an additional £1.6bn would be provided.

During the national emergency, MK Council has:

  • Set up the Local Support Service, contacting thousands of MK’s older and most vulnerable people who are shielding in their homes, checking in and offering a friendly ear, and delivering more than 1,000 parcels of medication and food.
  • Partnered with local charity Food Bank on Food Bank Xtra, adding resources and staff, arranging donations and issuing more than 2,000 food parcels to people in crisis.
  • Kicked off the MK Emergency Covid-19 Appeal Fund with a £50,000 donation – the fund, which is being co-ordinated by the MK Community Foundation has raised more than £173,000 and has distributed 85 grants to charities who are supporting local people through the pandemic.
  • Given key workers and volunteers free parking and subsidised bus routes identified as essential by them.
  • Given free bus travel to holders of older person’s bus passes (usually £1 per journey at peak times before 9.30am) so local older people can take advantage of dedicated supermarket early opening hours.
  • Paid grants worth £12.43m to 900 local businesses and expects to pass on £40m to 3,300 businesses in total.

Council Leader Cllr Pete Marland said: “Additional costs will continue to fall on local government as we step up to deliver much needed support during the emergency.

“We started in a good financial position, having protected our reserves for instances like this, and we’re using the extra government funding carefully.  We’ve also redeployed resources and staff into essential services to make sure that vital support is available where it’s most needed.

“However, it’s clear that this national crisis will reshape people’s lives and livelihoods, which means we’ll be even more in demand going forward. This inevitably comes with a cost. We’ll want sensible conversations with Government about how we meet that.”