York is facing a ‘deeply troubling’ £24 million funding shortfall due to coronavirus

Leader of City of York Council Keith Aspden

Council chiefs have written to the Government pleading for more cash – warning they face a £24 million deficit which could have a ‘deeply troubling’ impact on services.

The move comes after Labour members said more than 600 York residents could lose adult or child social care support without extra funding for councils from the Government.

Cllr Keith Aspden, leader of City of York Council, has written to the Secretary of State saying the authority will need £24 million – on top of the £10m it has already received – to weather the coronavirus storm.

Cllr Nigel Ayre said: “The potential impact of a funding crisis on social care and frontline services is deeply troubling but I can assure residents that we will do all we can to protect services for the most vulnerable in our communities.

“It is vital that the Government sticks to its promise and supports local authorities to cover the cost of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“For several weeks we have been working with the Local Government Association in cross-party efforts to press ministers on the urgent need for funding. Services in York are already under strain, having been continuously under-funded.”

Fears for libraries and leisure centres

Cllr Danny Myers

Labour councillors have backed calls for more Government funding.

They say if the money does not materialise, the council could be forced to look at closing libraries and leisure centres, stopping homeless support services and slashing budgets for parks to avoid cutting adult and child social care services.

Cllr Danny Myers said: “Over 600 vulnerable people losing care across our city would be a hammer blow.

“The Government promised to stand by councils through this crisis, but we can see and hear that the words being used by ministers are changing to an unwillingness from Government to fully cover the costs incurred by councils.”

Not bankrupt

The council is not considering issuing a section 114 notice – which would effectively signal bankruptcy – at this time according to a report prepared for an executive meeting earlier this month.

Cllr Ayre said: “We are also lucky to be in a stronger position than many other local authorities who risk being unable to set a balanced budget as a result of the crisis.

“However, a £24 million shortfall will create significant financial challenges for the council as we seek to protect core services and drive forward our local recovery.”

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesperson has previously said £3.2bn of emergency funding has been given to councils to to tackle coronavirus pressures.