Brent councillors called on the Government to cover the council’s costs related to the Covid-19 pandemic, which are currently estimated at around £23 million.

Several spoke at a full council meeting yesterday (July 13) – the first since lockdown measures were introduced – outlining the worrying situation the council finds itself in.

According to a council report, it is facing pressures of £47.6 million based on lost income and additional costs.

The Government provided Brent Council with a support package of £18.4 million, with a further £2.8 million expected as part of further funding announced at the start of this month.

However, it noted that even with this support, and further reimbursements, it is looking at an estimated £23 million shortfall.

“This shows the challenges this authority is facing going forward,” said Cllr Margaret McLennan, deputy leader of Brent Council.

“With Covid-19, everything has gone out the window in terms of what we are trying to achieve.

“We now find ourselves facing near bankruptcy all because we want to support our residents and make sure they don’t suffer in this pandemic.”

Cllr McLennan explained that any financial concerns will be eased significantly if the council receives a “full refund” to cover the money spent and lost due to the pandemic.

And she urged Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick to follow through on what was “promised” at the start of the outbreak.

She was supported by Cllr Robert Johnson, who said the Government “should be paying” for work carried out by local authorities, such as supplying personal protective equipment (PPE) and finding emergency accommodation for homeless people.

Cllr Neil Nerva said it was “hard to imagine how we’ll bridge the gap” without government intervention, while Cllr Fleur Donnelly-Jackson said she was worried about the impact it will have on future projects such as housebuilding in the borough.

The new leader of Brent Conservatives, Cllr Suresh Kansagra, said he was confident local authorities will receive the necessary support from the Government to tackle the impact of Covid-19.

He added that the Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been “extremely good” in what he has offered so far and pointed out that the council does have back up money it can use if necessary.

“In Brent, we have a large amount of reserves for a rainy day, and it’s raining now,” he said.

The Government noted it has provided £27 billion to support councils, businesses, and communities during the pandemic.

This includes funding to ease immediate pressures on councils, adult social care support, business grants and council tax support payments.

Mr Jenrick announced he would also introduce a scheme to help recover lost parking income and that the Government will “continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with councils”.

He said: “Councils are playing a huge part in supporting their communities during this pandemic.

“From supporting the most vulnerable and keeping vital services running to operating local track and trace, council workers have been at the forefront of this great national effort and are the unsung heroes of this pandemic.”