Theresa Mayhem’s government has allocated barely 50p per person to Croydon in a hand-out to the council to cope with the impact of a no-deal Brexit.
Tony Newman, the leader of Croydon Council, has described the £210,000 grant to the borough as “pitiful”.
At a recent meeting of London council leaders attended by Newman to discuss the capital’s resilience and readiness for Brexit, contingency planning for matters ranging from food and fuel rationing to civil unrest were discussed.
Britain is set to leave the European Union, with or without an agreement, and with or without proper preparations, in 47 days’ time, on March 29.
In a letter sent last week to all local authorities in England and Wales, James Brokenshire, the secretary of state for housing, communities and local government, wrote, “I am pleased to confirm that MHCLG has been successful in securing additional resources from [the Treasury] as part of the Brexit funding announced by the Chancellor at Budget, to which I have added from Departmental resources. This week I announced £56.5million of funding to help you prepare for EU Exit.
“Councils will receive £20million this financial year as well as £20million to spend in the next financial year to fund additional planning and capacity.
“Across the two years, all district councils will receive £35,000, all county councils will receive £175,000, all unitaries will receive £210,000 and all combined authorities will receive £182,000. £1.5million will be allocated in 2018-2019 only to specific local authorities facing immediate impacts from local ports, with details of the allocation and distribution of that funding to be announced shortly.
“I am retaining £10million for allocation during 2019-2020 to respond to specific local costs that may only become evident in the months after we exit the EU.
“Finally, £5million will be split between teams in my Department and the local government sector for specific purposes such as strengthening resilience preparations and supporting communities. My officials will write to your officers with details. This funding will help councils to adapt to changes caused by Brexit, while still protecting vital local services.”
Given that, under successive Tory-led governments, Croydon Council’s government grant has been slashed by 80 per cent since 2010, the idea of Brokenshire trying to claim that he is in some way “still protecting vital local services” might strike many people as the height of hypocrisy, even by Conservative standards.
Because Croydon is the home of Lunar House, one of the Home Office’s largest immigration offices, the possibility of Brexit creating additional burdens on the already stretched council’s social care and other services seems high.
Other figures from local authorities have been angered by the government’s “pitiful” hand-out, since many see the chaos and uncertainty around Brexit as being entirely of the Tory government’s own making.
Ruth Dombey, the LibDem leader of neighbouring Sutton Council, described the cash hand-out as “nothing short of an insult to local people”.
She said, “Rather than wasting time, money and effort on this exercise, the government should work with us to focus on the real challenges which affect communities, like the current social care crisis, schools under-funding and falling police numbers.”
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