Cllr Shantau Rajawat, Cabinet Member for Finance and Corporate Services has written to Robert Jenrick MP urging him to take financial measures to support Hounslow’s communities and businesses.
Published: Thursday, 21st May 2020
Dear Secretary of State
Hounslow Council has submitted the Financial Return today as per the requirements of your Department. As always, we have done so transparently and to the best of our ability, acknowledging the uncertainty within which we are all working at the current time.
Local Government in the main has responded well to the COVID-19 emergency and, as we begin to re-introduce services, this presents a unique opportunity for us to redefine our role within the community and achieve better outcomes for residents and businesses.
Economic data suggests that the financial impact of COVID-19 on Hounslow will be significant, with analysis forecasting we will be the second worst impacted borough in London, with a 40% downturn in output. To that end, we need to respond and respond quickly by taking the initiative and leading our community through the difficult years ahead.
I write to you today to ask that funding models support this ambition and that the financial solutions you apply to Local Government are developed in a manner that supports councils to develop their own local sustainable solutions that are right for their communities. This will not only reduce the burden elsewhere in the state system but enable councils, their communities and business to more quickly drive economic recovery. To achieve that we need a long-term funding solution. This must include:
- Full reimbursement for all costs and lost income directly and indirectly linked to COVID-19, including Collection Fund losses
- A long-term funding solution for Adult Social Care to replace the increasing trend of one-off allocations which do not facilitate longer term planning and also takes account of the shielding numbers supplied to each authority, currently 22,000 in Hounslow
- Close working with DfE in providing a more logical and sustainable solution to SEND funding pressures. Creating negative reserves is not the answer.
- An NHS funding model that prioritises spending in community settings.
- A relaxation of Right to Buy Receipt deadlines for spend.
- A relaxation of Right to Buy Receipts ringfencing if other grant sources are utilised for development projects.
- A more coherent approach to Council Tax and NNDR reform.
- A clear, single strategy within Government for supporting the aviation industry and its partners in the long term and a workstream specifically related to Heathrow.
Hounslow is very happy to play its role in helping shape that and would actively engage in any discussions. Our ability to plan for the longer term is currently stifled by the uncertainty around the resources and levers we will have to support our communities at a time when they need us most.
Councillor Shantanu Rajawat
A copy of the letter is available here.