Somerset County Council has already been given over £32million to help cope with Covid. There remains considerable doubt about where and how the money has been spent.
Some of it has been costed and revealed (the overall price paid for PPE at the start of the outbreak, for instance) but much of the money remains unaccounted for and, apparently, unspent.
Over £9 and half million pounds was placed into something called the Budget Equalisation Reserve, which is a catch-all phrase for a fund that may be used for anything. Or nothing!
Reserves are held against the possibility of future problems. SCC intend to add the latest bag of cash from the government – £10.8million – into reserves. But they have offered a tiny olive branch to critics like myself.
In future the reserve fund will be called the Covid 19 Reserve Fund. So that’s alright then? Sorry guys. It is far from alright.
I believe we all have a right to know precisely where every penny of Covid cash has been used.
Some of it was used to boost a car park reserve fund, other chunks have or will be used to make up “savings” in different council departments. This seems ridiculous.
If your county council wants departments to make savings and the departments fail to deliver it cannot be right to dip into Covid money to balance the books.
I believe this has already happened and may still be happening. I find it impossible to trust statements from the leadership that assure us everything is in apple pie order.
I will not be giving up my campaign to get the facts. And today I raised the issue yet again in the House of Commons: