Figures have revealed that Milton Keynes Council is overseeing the distribution of £137.6 million worth of local relief funding and support from the Government. The funding is helping to support care homes, maintain local bus services and provide food and shelter for rough sleepers. Most of the money is targeted at protecting jobs and businesses through direct grants and rate relief.
Also included is an emergency government grant of £13.5 million to help protect council finances from being overwhelmed by the Covid-19 crisis.
The vast bulk of government funding has been delivered through the Covid-19 Business Rates Relief programme. A whopping £77.6 million will help relieve pressure on the leisure, retail and hospitality industry which has seen rates bills waived for the year. This measure also substantially reduces MK Council’s income collection risk because the government has effectively pre-paid on behalf of business.
In addition to this, the Council is distributing £2.3 million of government funding to support MK Council’s Council Tax fund, £1.9 million on grants for small businesses and a further £2 million on an Infection Control Fund for care homes.
Cllr Alex Walker, Leader of the Conservative Group, said:
“This government’s funding has been crucial in supporting MK Council’s response to the Covid-19 crisis. It has meant there has been enough money available to house rough sleepers, support our local transport and safeguard this year’s business rates income.
While the government has so far met its promise supporting Covid-19 relief efforts in Milton Keynes, they must keep up the effort to ensure no services are affected and our council can operate in the new-normal.”
Finance spokesperson, Cllr Allan Rankine, said:
"Whilst we largely understand the health impacts of the pandemic, the effect on the local economy is still largely unknown. This substantial government support serves to provide a breathing space that the Labour administration should use wisely. We shouldn't just rely on government funding, we can do much more to support the Milton Keynes economy through local council led initiatives.
I am also concerned that the current budget was agreed at a time of full employment and included a last minute windfall of £9m which was hurriedly allocated to things that, if I am being polite, might be described as 'nice to haves'. This Council should be ready to take tough financial decisions if the economy quickly deteriorates. I therefore urge the administration to make the necessary preparations for an emergency budget should one be required"