Waltham Forest Council’s leader has questioned how the Government allocates funding after receiving less than half the grant given to Hackney despite similar populations.

The Government handed out £300 million across the UK this month to fund test and trace schemes and plans to deal with future local outbreaks.

Waltham Forest, which has a population of more than 285,000, was given less than £1.5 million while Hackney, which has around 13,000 more residents, received over £3 million.

The borough of Redbridge, which has an estimated population of more than 317,000, received even less funding, with just £1,279,157 given to the council.

Waltham Forest Council leader Clare Coghill said that, while the council “welcomes the funding”, the amount given was “based on historic NHS spending which is almost a decade out of date” .

She said: “Despite comparable population sizes we have received roughly half the allocation of some of our neighbouring boroughs.

“This funding is intended to support local authorities to respond to local outbreaks in settings such as care homes, but does not take into account the wide variation in the number of care homes in each borough.

“We believe that the way this funding is allocated should also reflect what we know about the disproportionate impact that Covid-19 has on BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) communities and more deprived areas.

“Since the outbreak of Covid-19 we have worked incredibly hard to support our residents through this crisis, and we are ready to play an important role in supporting our local schools to re-open, helping businesses recover, and rebuilding our local economy.

“We believe that with our local knowledge we can develop effective local plans to help control the spread of the virus and safeguard vulnerable residents. However, it is vital that funding is allocated fairly to support us in these efforts.”

A spokesperson from the Department of Health and Social Care admitted that “funding allocations had to be made at pace”.

They said: “We concluded that mirroring shares of the Local Authority public health grant was the best immediately available option.

“If individual local authorities are under unsustainable pressure because of a local outbreak, we’ve set an expectation of mutual aid and will quickly explore other options for support if this is not viable.”

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