Fareham has received a total of £1,190,594 in additional support from the Treasury, through the Government's commitment to back Businesses, Councils and Communities.
Councils are playing an essential role in the nation’s response to Covid-19 by helping to keep the country moving, supporting communities and protecting the most vulnerable. We made a commitment to support councils with the additional cost pressures from the extra work and the tasks we have asked them to carry out as a result of the pandemic, in particular, social care - both adult and children’s - as well as public health services; fire and rescue services; waste collection services; shielding the clinically extremely vulnerable people; homelessness and rough sleeping; domestic abuse; supporting the NHS; and managing excess deaths. Of course, some local authorities will want to go beyond these immediate priorities and continue supporting their communities in other ways, and it is right that the cost of doing so is met locally.
To support councils, the Secretary of State has announced an unprecedented £3.2 billion in un-ringfenced funding to support councils during the Covid-19 pandemic. In response to councils’ requests, we have made this additional money available as an un-ringfenced grant which can be used by councils including FBC to meet local pressures as they see fit.
In the first round of allocations of £1.6 billion, we allocated resources primarily using the Adult Social Care relative needs formula, as an immediate response to the developing pressures in this area. In the face of a national emergency, we decided to allocate the second tranche of £1.6 billion in funding on a population basis, using the latest ONS population projections. These allocations are based on the latest and best assessment of the distribution of additional Covid-19 costs and pressures, which are likely to be distributed in a way that is different from pre-existing needs.
The Government is keenly aware of the challenges posed to rough sleepers, or those at risk of rough sleeping. The £3.2 billion mentioned above provides support to councils in their essential work in supporting over 5,400 rough sleepers off the street. This was in addition to the £3.2 million emergency rough sleeping funding previously announced on 17 March, to prevent the spread of coronavirus. In April, councils received £318 million of non-Covid-19 homelessness and rough sleeping funding as we continue to support the most vulnerable into sustainable accommodation.
We have provided councils with £500 million in a Hardship Fund to deliver further reductions in council tax to vulnerable households. In particular, the expectation is that all working-age recipients of Local Council Tax Support will receive a further reduction in their bill of £150. We have also provided opportunities for local discretion, allowing councils to reflect the existing support mechanisms available locally.
The Government has also announced funding of up to £167 million under the Covid-19 Bus Services Support Grant which will be paid to bus operators and councils over 12 weeks, of which £21.5 million will be paid directly to councils in order to maintain bus services at a level which is sufficient to meet reduced demand, but also to allow adequate space between passengers on board. This is in addition to existing bus grant payments.
Alongside this, up to £30 million has been made available to keep trams and metro trains operating, allowing essential local routes to remain open during the pandemic.
Councils have also reported issues with cashflow, which is why we have announced over £5 billion to ease their immediate cashflow pressures. These new measures have meant councils have been able to defer £2.6 billion of payments they were due to make to central Government from April to June as part of the business rates retention scheme. Additionally, £1.8 billion of the 2020/21 business rates reliefs were paid out to councils at the end of March.
Furthermore, Government has paid social care grants to councils worth £850 million for both children and adults. These were paid in April rather than monthly in April, May and June, and have helped provide immediate support for core frontline social care services.
The Government has also announced £600 million in funding for infection control in care homes. This funding is ringfenced and will be allocated to local authorities to support adult social care providers in England to reduce the rate of transmission in and between care homes and in particular, minimising the movement of staff to reduce the risk of asymptomatic transmission of the virus and ensuring staff do not lose out on wages in doing so.
As well as supporting vital council services, the Government is enabling councils to support economically vulnerable businesses and high streets across the country. We are providing this support through the Hardship Fund, Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF), Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants Fund (RHLGF) and Local Authority Discretionary Fund, and local government plays a vital role in helping us to deliver these.
Under the SBGF, eligible businesses in England in receipt of either Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) or Rural Rates Relief (RRR) in the business rates system are eligible for a grant of £10,000. Under the RHLGF, eligible businesses in England in receipt of the Expanded Retail Discount (which covers retail, hospitality and leisure) with a rateable value of less than £51,000 are eligible for a grant of £10,000 or £25,000 per property. A total of £12.3 billion has been made available to local authorities to pay grants to businesses across the two schemes.
On 1 May, the Government announced a further up to £617 million available to councils to support small businesses with high fixed property-related costs but that are not eligible for the current grant schemes. Local authorities will be responsible for defining the precise eligibility for this discretionary scheme, and guidance on this was published on 13 May.
Businesses are also receiving discounts of almost £10 billion on their rates bills in response to Covid-19, with those hardest hit by the pandemic in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors such as shops, cafes and pubs, paying no business rates whatsoever this financial year.
At the outset of the emergency the Government said it would give councils, businesses and communities all over the UK including Fareham, the resources they need to respond to this unprecedented crisis. This significant package of financial support demonstrates the Government's strong commitment to doing so.