The Use, Or Not, Of Council (Public) Useable Reserves, Part 3

Dear Ms Sinnot-Lacey

Thank you for your reply, which has explained, apparently, that the council useable reserves of £24,400,000 are really an apparition. They are phantom “useable” reserves, not fit to be used but reduced by your earmarked amounts of £21,600,000 to a mere £2,800,000. Why doesn’t WLBC publish that, real, information?

You quote “£1m is set aside to meet uncertainties in government funding within the revenue account…a further £15.5 m is earmarked for specific purposes…£2.6m of earmarked Housing Revenue Account (HRA) reserves and a further £3.6m of Capital Receipts Reserve that are specifically to be used for HRA purposes only and to fund planned capital projects within our capital programme”.

You write about the use of reserves to ensure that capital projects require financial viability. As I wrote about Cllr Moran stating “We have been placed in an impossible situation of deciding between the numbers of lives affected and lost in either scenario. Our COVID numbers are rising day by day and we must do something to address this, but we must protect our local economy, the long term mental health of our workforce and residents along with the risks of poverty that could come through job losses” do you consider your concerns for “meeting unforeseen costs, an example being insurance claims”, relevant to the real costs of 189 West Lancastrian lives lost as I write?

Cllr Yates is quoted as claiming a Covid-19 government payment to West Lancashire Council is short by £1.7million. It will be tragic if your response is to wring your collective council hands about £15.5 being earmarked for specific purposes and not for emergency relief.

My expectations of a reasonable and practical explanation of our, public, useable reserves, being used at such a time of crisis have been disappointed, to put it mildly.

And now, entering the fray, is Rosie Cooper MP who writes that she “voted to support the Labour motion calling on Government to continue directly funding free school meals over the school holidays until Easter 2021. If passed, this would have meant…2,444 children here in West Lancashire being supported and not going hungry during the pandemic, a time where millions of families are feeling the strain of unemployment, furlough, reduced wages or reduced hours. 

And she said “To ensure that children continue to be nourished is the absolute least this Government could do, but sadly the Prime Minister and the Conservatives voted against feeding the children. The old Conservative trait of knowing the cost of everything and the value of nothing continues, with children being punished by this Government due to the pandemic”.

Do you have a strange feeling that Rosie might regret that remark, bearing in mind Labour WLBC has just, in a few sentences, clearly demonstrated it knows the cost of every possible future reason to deny the use of reserves that could be feeding the 2,444 children she’s identified, and never mind the relief that could be given to our local economy?

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