Emergency funding needs to rise seven-fold

18 Oct 01
Councils' ability to respond to emergencies in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the US is being undermined by a lack of government funding, officials claim.

19 October 2001

As anthrax scares continue across the country – in Liverpool, Canterbury and London, including the Local Government Association headquarters – Ian Hoult, honorary general secretary of the Emergency Planning Society, the body representing council emergency planning officers, said ministers should be prepared to fund services fully.

Local authorities receive about £14m in aid, but Hoult said this should increase seven-fold to £100m. 'We need to be properly funded and we are certainly not at the moment,' he told Public Finance.

Funding levels have decreased in the past decade. In 1991/92, councils received £25.1m in support. By 2000/01 that figure had shrunk to £14.1m. Hoult said the current post-September 11 situation should make ministers think again about funding levels.

Through the Civil Defence Grant, each authority receives £45,000, with the county council receiving an extra £10,000 for each district council within its administrative boundaries.

Civil servants are currently reviewing government support and considering changes to the 1948 Civil Defence Regulations – the legislation that still governs emergency planning in the UK.

Hoult maintains that councils will be able to respond to anthrax scares because of knowledge gained following the sarin gas attack on the Tokyo Underground in 1995 in which 12 people died.

His reassurance came as the number of scares increased by the day. Police are currently investigating a probable hoax at the LGA on October 16. A letter sent to the Local Government International Bureau closed off the LGA headquarters as local government minister Nick Raynsford was giving a speech. Seven members of staff tested negative for anthrax.


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