Redcar And Cleveland Council Leader Mary Lanigan who fronts the Independent/Liberal Democrat coalition yesterday stated in yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, she believes the government are going to pull back on their promise of funding. The leader said, “I feel we’ve sometimes been led along a path by central government” and “I’m quite sure they’re going to pull some of this funding back.”
In April 2021 however the leader was full of praise of the government saying; “It was a long, hard but fair negotiation” and “We are pleased that the Government recognised the unique circumstances under which we requested support and awarded grant funding.”
Redcar and Cleveland Council received ‘Exceptional Financial Support’ from the Government earlier this year due to the cost of a cyber attack in 2020 estimated to have cost £8.7m. One of the conditions for getting the £3.6m grant was that the authority would be audited in an ‘external assurance review’ alongside eight other councils.
Councillor Carl Quartermain, Leader of the Labour Group said, he was shocked to hear about the new revelation by the Council Leader,
“I am amazed at the supposition by the leader that she is “sure” we’ll have funding pulled! I would ask her to qualify that statement. I’m ‘sure’ most councillors will be concerned to hear that after already being shortchanged.
“After announcing satisfaction with the £3.6million grant, it’s taken three months for Cllr Lanigan to voice concern over the reality of the funding. Only now is she concerned over the criteria to lever the grant award. Only now, while our Highways department estimates a two year backlog on programmes and applications for works and when many of our waste service staff are isolating with further isolations expected and where we have no contingency other than to stop services, does the council leader intimate a mild attack on the government’s paltry cyber attack grant which leaves this borough short in its finances.
“As I stated in April, No, we are not pleased with the outcome. No, we are not pleased with a government who said we wouldn’t be financially impacted but then has left Redcar And Cleveland over £5million short.
“No we are not pleased with a council leader who has been “led along a path”, yet complimenting a government whose continual shortcomings leaves us juggling which services to cut or what staffing crisis we will have to endure next. We are not pleased and what’s more it is too late to debate, question or collectively appeal to this government further because our Council Leader has closed this off with saying “we are pleased” with this outcome. We are not.
“We need a leader who will hold the government and the MP to task and not simply allow things to happen to us with a smile. We are a council in desperate need because of years of austerity cuts, the slashing of management and staffing, the impacts of Covid-19 and the strain on support and social care services. The whole system needs nationwide reform and proper funding because when issues like this happen, the real victims are always the residents and service users.”
Redcar And Cleveland councillors are currently progressing a cross party internal enquiry, to gather more information regarding the Cyber Attack grant in order to gather more transparency over the decision making process. Labour has agreed to withhold a motion which calls on all councillors to condemn the government for not upholding their promise to cover the cyber attack, until the enquiry is complete.
Council finances unsustainable without reform, say MPs | Public Sector Executive