On Thursday 23 April Oldham Council Cabinet met for the first time since lockdown, using Microsoft Teams to discuss the financial implications of the COVID-19 outbreak.This outbreak is placing further unprecedented pressure on services provided by both the council and the NHS.
Extra costs have impacted the councils budget, with major rises in Adult Social care costs as well as lost income through decisions like from making council car parks free for key workers.
To help the community face this pandemic, the Cabinet agreed to supplement £7.641m of Government resources with £2.359m of reserves to enable the council to deploy £10m immediately. This budget will be used to meet urgent costs impacting the council and the Oldham economy.
On 27 March 2020 the Council received £7,641,407 from the Government, its share of a £1.6bn unringfenced grant for Local Government. The Government indicated this was mainly to meet the additional costs of Adult Social Care resulting from COVID-19
A £3.015m Hardship Fund grant was also received on 3 April 2020. This is to provide support in paying council tax for those primarily of working age in receipt of Council Tax Reduction.
But councillors say more is needed to help properly combat the situation, with total additional spending and lost income to the council predicted to be as high as £46.2m.
Oldham Council Leader Sean Fielding said: “Additional resources from Government are welcome but after being told to spend what is necessary we must have assurances that more funding will be made available.
“We will continue to do everything necessary to help Oldham residents, but after bearing the brunt of 10 years of austerity and having had to make over £215m of budget reductions over that time we need further Government funding to help us face this crisis”