GIVE BUCKINGHAMSHIRE AND OTHER COUNCILS THE FREEDOM AND FLEXIBILITY TO USE GRANT AID IN THE BEST WAY TO SUPPORT OUR COMMUNITIES, SAYS THE RT HON DAME CHERYL GILLAN MP
Buckinghamshire and other councils should be given the freedom and flexibility to use grant aid in the best way to support our communities, the Rt Hon Dame Cheryl Gillan told the House of Commons on 11 January.
Questioning the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Dame Cheryl said:
“Notwithstanding what the Secretary of State has just said about our councils being at the frontline of this pandemic, in addition to general grants Bucks council has received £200 million across 25 specific grants as at the end of the last year, but they are subject, I am afraid, to myriad conditions. For example, it has been told that the contain outbreak management fund cannot be used to support local businesses. Surely the Secretary of State can see that it would be better to give our councils the freedom and flexibility to deploy those grants in a way that best meets the needs of their communities, as, after all, they are really facing the danger we all fear?”
The Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP replied: “ My right hon. Friend raises an important point. Local councils have done a fantastic job, but they have limited capacity and in many cases they are close to the limit of that capacity. We are very aware of that. I am urging my colleagues in Cabinet and across Government to prioritise carefully their asks of local government, to ensure that the schemes they bring forward are as simple as possible to reduce the burden on local councils. My long-standing view is that we should be providing funding in almost every case to local councils on an un-ring-fenced basis. That is certainly the way we have proceeded in general throughout the pandemic. We have provided £54 million of un-ring-fenced funding to her local council on top of, as she said, a whole range of schemes to support local businesses and the care sector.”
Dame Cheryl commented later: “The Covid-19 pandemic has shown that we must be able to respond rapidly and target funds quickly where they are most needed.”