Hertfordshire County Council faces funding gap of over £5m

At least £40m needed by councils in East of England to deliver basic public services

Thursday, 4th March 2021, 7:48 am

Councils in the East of England have a funding shortfall of at least £40million between them for this financial year - and Hertfordshire County Council is among the worst hit with a funding gap £5.9million.

The figures were obtained by Unison through a Freedom of Information (FoI) request, leaving the union worried services such as libraries, child protection, care for the elderly, road maintenance and public health programmes will all be put at risk.

Hertfordshire County Council was among the worst hit in the region with a funding hap if £5,9million - Bedford Borough Council was the worst hit in the region with a funding gap of more than £9m.

Hertfordshire County Council

The county council's latest reported position is was reported to the cabinet last month, click here to see the report.

A spokesperson for Hertfordshire County Council said: "The position has improved as COVID financial risks have reduced or been mitigated by management actions and additional government support.

"The reported position is now showing as an underspend of £1.9m. Within the report we highlighted a £4.5m potential shortfall associated with COVID related expenditure, but this is more than offset by savings across operational budgets.

"The council has just approved its budget plans for next financial year, and has achieved a balanced budget without the need for service reductions.

"This budget includes some cover for COVID related issues, but risk remains in next financial year and the medium term."

Unison has launched an online map showing people how much their council needs to deliver basic services - and is encouraging people to contact their MPs to get the government to provide more funding. You can access the map here.

Unison Eastern head of local government, Sam Leigh, said: “The financial situation councils in the East of England are experiencing is dire.

"They face a huge black hole in their budgets. Many need to take drastic action to ensure they can deliver vital services, but all too often even these have been cut.

“Councils were struggling even before the pandemic. But with the Government refusing to pay them back for the additional costs brought on by Covid-19, the most vulnerable will suffer and basic services will be significantly pared back or stopped."