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16th Oct, 2021

Redditch Borough Council urged to lobby for extra Covid support

Ross Crawford 15th Jan, 2021 Updated: 15th Jan, 2021

THE borough council should consider ‘lobbying politically’ in a bid to get more money from Central Government to deal with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on its coffers.

The call came from the council’s chief executive Kevin Dicks who described the current situation as ‘the most challenging time I have faced in local government’.

The authority is trying to put together a three year financial plan but the red ink starts at a deficit of £242,000 for the next financial year and deepens to a £1.3million hole by 2023-24.

The council has received just shy of £2million from the Government to deal with the impact of Covid-19 but Mr Dicks indicated perhaps that wasn’t enough.

He told Tuesday night’s meeting of the council’s executive committee: “In terms of our deprivation and our challenges under Covid, perhaps we have not received as much as other councils and we should probably question why that has been the case.”

He added that this might be something councillors ‘might consider lobbying politically’.

He said savings needed to be made and would be made and that managers were being challenged to make sure there was no spare capacity in their budgets and that any savings would be put into the pot.

Councillor David Thain (Con, West) whose portfolio covers finance said: “Savings are small, in fact, very small.

“The main message from me is that there are more savings to be made, more savings must be made, pretty much across the council.”

Councillors heard that the authority is looking to increase council tax by the maximum £5 for a Band D property while rents for tenants are set to increase by 1.5 per cent.

Coun Mike Rouse (Con, Church Hill) told the meeting the council’s Covid grant from Central Government didn’t fully cover all the money given to the town.

This included £269,000 for cultural recovery, £650,000 for the Worcestershire Community Foundation – money which local voluntary groups could apply for, £28,000 for Sandycroft to combat domestic violence plus the town had received £14.5million in business grants, the £20 uplift in Universal Credit and there were recipients of the £500 self isolation grant.

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