EXTRA emergency funding will come from the government to continue vital public services in West Berkshire as the costs of combating the coronavirus go up.

The extra money will help get rough sleepers off the street, support new shielding programmes for vulnerable people, and help public health workers.

Robert Jenrick, Local Government Secretary, announced an extra £1.6 billion for local councils across England last weekend.

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Welcoming the emergency funding, Lynne Doherty, leader of West Berkshire Council, said: “At the start of this outbreak I — along with council leaders across the country — asked the government to reassure us that they would provide us with all of the financial support that we might need to respond effectively within our local areas. 

“I am pleased to say that they have not let us down.”

The council has already received £3.2million from the government in March to support the response to the coronavirus. But it is unclear currently how much of this month’s funding will be allocated to West Berkshire. 

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This month’s emergency funding will help cover the extra costs the council is facing due to the virus, a spokesman said. 

Cllr Doherty said: “The government’s swift response enabled us to quickly set up our new community support hub, ahead of the enhanced social distancing that came into place on March 23.”

The community support hub links people who need support with volunteers who can help them. 

Elsewhere, Cllr Doherty said emergency funding has also gone to a council tax hardship fund, and extra help for rough sleepers. 

She said: “I am truly impressed with how agile the local authority has been, with staff stepping up to help in numerous ways both behind the scenes and on the front line. 

“This further funding is very welcome and I can assure residents that we will continue to deliver the excellent local services our residents need.”

Mr Jenrick said: “Up and down the country, council workers are the unsung heroes as we tackle this virus. They are in the front line of the national effort to keep the public safe and deliver the services people need.

“Never has this been more important and we are all rightly grateful for everything that they are doing.

“This new funding will support them through immediate pressures they are facing to respond to coronavirus and protect vital services.”