Brokenshire calls for more cash for councils to deal with no-deal Brexit

2 Jan 19

The communities secretary has warned that councils must be given more money to plan for a no-deal Brexit.

A leaked letter from James Brokenshire to chancellor Philip Hammond, seen by The Telegraph, raised fears over an “increased risk of disruption” for councils in a no-deal scenario.

In his letter revealed on Sunday, Brokenshire said: “If councils are not given the funding they need now to prepare, we are at increased risk of disruption in the medium to longer term.

“As you know, government needs local authorities to remain resilient in the face of their other challenges, including pressures in adult social care and children’s services.”

Brokenshire suggested funding Local Resilience Funds, which plan and prepare for localised incidents and catastrophic emergencies, to help local authorities with potential civil unrest.

“To ensure local areas are prepared for a range of disruption (e.g. civil unrest) that could arise in a deal or no deal scenario, it is vital that we resource LRFs now to make sure they can undertake essential planning,” the letter said.

He also called on the Treasury to ensure that European development funding, which helps regenerate parts of the UK, is guaranteed in a no-deal scenario.

Brokenshire’s letter continued: “There are countless scenarios where councils may need to step in to ease short-term disruption at a local level.

“We need to offer the sector reassurance that if they act responsibly by using up some of their reserves, they will be recompensed.

“We also require confirmation that this process would cover any costs associated with a large influx of vulnerable UK nationals returning from Europe.”

In December 2018, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government received £35m out of a total of £2bn of emergency funding from the Treasury to plan for a no deal Brexit. But The Telegraph reports that this was less than half of the funding it requested.

The five departments who received the greatest portion of the £2bn were the Home Office (£480m), Defra (£410m), HMRC (£375m) and BEIS (£190m).

An MHCLG spokesperson said: “MHCLG is committed to working with local government and local leaders to ensure they are adequately prepared to respond to any Brexit scenario.

“This month, the department received £35m from HMT and will shortly announce the allocation of this funding to local authorities to support with their Brexit preparations.”

A panel of experts, convened last month by CIPFA to discuss the implications of Brexit, recently suggested councils should begin preparations for a no-deal Brexit and should not wait for direction from central government.

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