Leisure centre cuts and tax hikes amid pandemic prices – #NewsEverything #England

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Councils are contemplating slicing companies after months of elevated prices because of the coronavirus pandemic

Leisure centre closures, tax hikes and bus companies cuts are all being thought-about as UK councils grapple with the prices of the coronavirus disaster.

Councillors say they face “tough monetary selections forward” as they draw up emergency spending plans.

Greater than £3.7bn has been given to councils to cowl prices because the pandemic struck in March, however most forecast black holes of their budgets.

The federal government says it has given authorities “unprecedented help”.

In June, a BBC investigation discovered, out of 173 higher tier native authorities which responded, 148 predicted a mixed funds shortfall of no less than £3.2bn.

A number of councils have since outlined preliminary plans to chop companies to handle funding gaps.

Councillors in Milton Keynes mentioned it was doubtless “numerous native companies” could be hit by cuts within the quick time period, the primary being bus companies.

“If we do not have an announcement [of further funding] this month from central authorities, we should take selections round bus companies in October,” Councillor Rob Middleton mentioned.

He added it was “additionally doubtless that leisure companies are one of many areas which are going to be hit hardest, and selections are most likely going to should be made earlier than Christmas”.

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Hannah Taylor in Newcastle began a petition to reopen a leisure centre which is closed indefinitely

In Newcastle, a number of public leisure centres, run by Greenwich Leisure Restricted, have been closed “till the impression of the pandemic…is clearer”, regardless of £5m of emergency funding from the council.

Hannah Taylor, who began a petition to avoid wasting the Walker Exercise Dome facility within the metropolis, mentioned it was a “big a part of the group” and other people have been “devastated” it had been closed.

Councils are struggling financially due to misplaced enterprise charges, council tax holidays and emergency funds for households whose incomes have disappeared, similtaneously rising prices of grownup care and offering protecting tools (PPE) for carers.

A few of these councils would additionally sometimes depend upon tourism for big chunks of revenue, similar to dividends from airports they personal or parking charges from guests.

Cuts proposed now embody lowering the quantity being paid to councillors in allowances, being explored by Kent County Council, which has tabled an emergency funds.

In West Berkshire, the council has revealed plans to approve the utmost council tax hike potential with out a referendum (3.99%) for the following two years.

Many authorities, together with Oxfordshire, Newcastle, Lewisham and Cherwell are additionally recruitment freezes in departments similar to buyer companies and housing.

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Coronavirus emergency grants to councilsSupply: MHCLG

Redbridge Council not too long ago launched a survey to search out out what companies “matter essentially the most” to residents, earlier than addressing the “daunting prospect” of creating cuts “to the tune of £83m” over the following few years.

Councillor Kam Rai, Redbridge Council’s deputy chief, mentioned the federal government had put councils in an “unimaginable place” after the lack of “promised funding” to cowl the prices of coronavirus.

“We now have to make tough selections about assembly ongoing native wants this 12 months and over the following 5 years,” he mentioned.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Native Authorities (MHCLG) mentioned: “We’re giving councils unprecedented help through the pandemic with a £4.3bn bundle, together with £3.7bn which isn’t ring-fenced and £600m to help social care suppliers.

“We’ll proceed to work intently with councils as they help their communities by way of the pandemic and if any are involved about their future monetary place they need to contact MHCLG.”

Reporting group: Rob England and the Native Democracy Reporting Service

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