Letter to the Prime Minister

Letter sent to Prime Minister Boris Johnson following recent claims about Somerset County Council and Covid funding

Dear Prime Minister

I was extremely disappointed to hear the comments made in the Commons yesterday by Ian Liddell-Grainger MP concerning Somerset County Council’s alleged use of Covid-19 funding and felt compelled to write directly to you to ‘set the record straight’.

Firstly, I wish to state that we are extremely grateful for the funding support received from your Government and the further funding announced by the Chancellor as part of the provisional finance settlement.

I can confirm to you that Somerset County Council is spending all of the Covid-19 funding it has (and will) received in full compliance of the requirements of the various grants and is being used as your Government intended – to help residents, communities and businesses in Somerset. I can appreciate however that the Covid-19 funding framework for Councils is complex and for the uninformed can be very confusing.

Covid-19 funding has enabled Somerset to help keep infection rates among the lowest in the country. To date we have received just under £32m of emergency funding which has been used in line with Government guidelines to cover additional costs such as PPE, supporting Districts with housing the homeless, supporting our community sector, dealing with extra demands particularly in areas such as Social Care, supporting our care providers, funding for Clinically Extremely Vulnerable, LA Emergency Assistance Grants for Food & Essential supplies, Schools & College Transport capacity, the Covid-19 Winter Grant scheme and the Contain Outbreak Management Fund.

The further £10.8m of Covid-19 funding that was announced as part of the 2021/22 provisional finance settlement will also continue to be used in this appropriate way.

I can confirm to you that we have fully completed the returns and claims that have been required of us by your Whitehall Departments and we will continue to comply in full.

Finally and very sadly, can I say how much I regret that you and your team’s focus on leadership at this critical time should have been diverted by a lack of understanding from an MP who has failed to attend any briefing with myself or the Chief Executive for a significant number of months.

With kind regards

Cllr David Fothergill
Leader of Somerset County Council