Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government – Simon Clarke MP
This summer, our country is embarking on a national recovery effort.
No corner of our country has been left untouched by coronavirus.
Our public sector workers are playing a vital role in defeating the virus and as Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, I see their impact every day in our local councils.
Whether it is by supporting our communities and protecting the most vulnerable, ensuring our bins are collected or nurturing local businesses, they are the unsung heroes of this crisis.
I would like to thank everyone working in the public sector for their incredible efforts in responding to this enormous national challenge – I am truly thankful to you all for your hard work and dedication.
Your work will continue to be vital as we strive to get the economy up and running again, help our communities back to their feet and move forward with our ambition to level up opportunity across the country.
That’s why we have provided councils with £3.2bn in support so they have the resources they need to support their communities through this challenging time.
We have distributed this in the fairest way possible, based on what councils are telling us about the immediate pressures they are facing. They have the flexibility to choose to spend the money where it is needed most.
We have also provided funding for councils to carry out specific tasks. This includes £500m to deliver further council tax relief to vulnerable households, £600m to help care providers overcome the infection rate in and between care homes and £850 million of social care grants brought forward.
In total, we have provided an unprecedented package of £27bn to support local councils, businesses and communities in fighting the pandemic.
This funding boost is on top of English councils' core spending power rising by over £2.9bn this financial year to underpin the efforts of their dedicated staff and their work to deliver good quality public services.
We are working closely across Government on a comprehensive settlement for the sector.
We said at the beginning of this pandemic that we would give councils the resources they need to do the job, and we have done exactly that.
We will return to our normal way of life in a phased manner – saving livelihoods as well as lives. But as we begin to recover, we know that our businesses will continue to face challenges.
Since the start of this crisis, we have stood by businesses right across the UK.
Our job retention scheme is protecting incomes and supporting business by paying up to £2,500 each month towards the salaries of furloughed workers. We have extended this until the end of October, reflecting our determination to safeguard as many jobs as possible during the storm.
Through the hard work of local authorities, we have distributed over £10bn in grants to more than 840,000 businesses across the country. And firms are also able to receive a share of almost £10bn in business rates bills discount, with shops, cafes and pubs, paying no business rates whatsoever this year.
There is no doubt that these are exceptionally difficult conditions for businesses up and down the country, and the work being done by the public sector will be more important than ever as we move into recovery and work to safely reopen our high streets. I have announced £50 million for councils across England to support this undertaking.
We are more committed than ever to our central mission to level up and scale up our ambition for every part of this country, driving local growth and delivering opportunity right across the UK.
Restarting the motor of the Midlands Engine and rekindling the fires of the Northern Powerhouse will be essential for us to unleash the potential of our regions and restart the economy.
I fully realise the scale of this challenge and will continue to work closely with councils and local leaders, including the M9 group of metro mayors, to deliver on this pledge.
Because just as no corner of this country has been left untouched by the effects of the pandemic, so too it is vital that no corner is left untouched as we embark upon the road to recovery.