As many as 150 local authorities are running out of time to balance their budgets.
Tameside and Trafford are amongst the councils that are struggling most, with a growing list of debtors on their books, and no sign of their own costs letting up any time soon.
The crisis has hit everyone in different ways, and it should perhaps come as no surprise that the knock on effects of missed payments, are starting to reach council level. If councils were forced to declare themselves bankrupt, as is looking increasingly likely, the effects would be felt by everyone under their jurisdiction and right along the chain.
Guess who would be hardest hit? The most vulnerable in society, as per usual.
Whilst vulnerable people will undoubtedly make up a proportion of those who owe money to councils, there will be plenty of people who are in fact in a position to pay, but are not paying for one reason or another.
Councils are urging those that can pay, to pay as soon as possible, so that vital help will still be able to reach those who need it most.
The idea of ‘community’ has been reimagined in many parts of the UK since the arrival of lockdown, and it is hoped that this concept of working together to ‘leave no one behind’ endures for a long while still, so that councils are able to do the work that many depend on.
Of course, relying on debtors to pay their dues ASAP is not a safe recovery model, and so councils are also asking for urgent help from central Government.
£3.2 billion has already been cascaded to councils in an attempt to help them survive the repeated blows of COVID-19, but it’s simply not enough.
The full effects of coronavirus on households have not yet been seen, and we’re probably only at the tip of the iceberg in terms of what is still to come, but councils are clear that more financial support is needed now, to ensure they are not forced into bankruptcy.
Time is running out for councils, but that is most dangerous for the people who depend on council support.
It’s a vicious circle, that can only be helped with support from all sides…
If you owe it, pay it, and if it’s not yours, give it back.
If as many citizens do this as possible, maybe some extra help from above will mean that councils survive.
Fingers crossed, for now.
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