Yup. Tower Hamlets council has received £78,818,000 in coronavirus grant funding up to 3rd August 2020, the highest amount of any London borough, according to data published by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

Of this £73,975,000 has been distributed to 5,086 of the 5,222 organisations / businesses eligible.

Problem is nobody knows exactly where the money was spent.

Were the special PPE masks the Council ordered for councillors with ‘Keep Tower Hamlets Safe’ printed on them that expensive? We hope not.

Coronavirus grant funding to London councils

Local AuthorityInitial AllocationNumber In scope for grantNumber of grant payments madeValue of payments (£)
Tower Hamlets£78,818,000 5,2225,086£73,975,000
Camden£70,150,000 4,2873,783£71,490,000
Southwark£70,062,000 4,9654,328£63,080,000
Ealing£68,212,000 5,4405,440£74,725,000
Barnet£65,756,000 4,2613,707£59,330,000
Hackney£64,622,000 5,1184,377£64,305,000
Brent£64,386,000 4,6164,062£59,895,000
Croydon£60,588,000 3,9333,591£48,555,000
Newham£58,660,000 3,9233,923£54,515,000
Wandsworth£58,192,000 3,8253,502£54,730,000
Islington£57,768,000 3,9373,584£58,670,000
Lambeth£57,500,000 4,3083,919£54,205,000
Haringey£56,312,000 3,4053,328£48,910,000
Waltham Forest£54,066,000 3,1823,160£43,135,000
Bromley£52,482,000 3,7083,263£46,775,000
Enfield£50,182,000 3,2233,074£43,760,000
Redbridge£49,612,000 3,3553,098£44,540,000
Hammersmith & Fulham£49,208,000 3,1462,646£44,745,000
Lewisham£47,004,000 3,1223,122£39,650,000
Hillingdon£45,756,000 3,0463,046£41,020,000
Harrow£42,216,000 2,6612,661£38,925,000
Richmond£41,610,000 2,7312,540£41,375,000
Havering£40,532,000 2,7742,773£37,330,000
Greenwich£36,852,000 3,0452,681£34,370,000
Hounslow£36,520,000 2,8482,447£34,400,000
Bexley£36,438,000 2,7262,722£33,535,000
Merton£29,318,000 2,1032,095£27,775,000
Sutton£28,160,000 2,0281,969£25,360,000
Barking & Dagenham£26,938,000 2,2911,963£25,210,000
Coronavirus grant funding: local authority payments to small and medium businesses. Local authority grant payments as of 3 August 2020. Data source: https://bit.ly/3idHiS6

Anyone seen £74m knocking around?

The market traders certainly did not get their proper allocation for disruption of business.

We have yet to hear of any third sector organisations such as Neighbours in Poplar getting any financial help from Tower Hamlets council to feed those in need of a hot meal.

Moley has repeatedly asked for a breakdown of the how the coronavirus money was spent and has yet to receive a reply.

Tower Hamlets Conservatives have also asked. No reply.

Cllr. Andrew Wood (Independent, Canary Wharf) has been asking since 27th April. No response.

Moley has heard rumours that between £7m – £8.5m was ‘redirected’ by LBTH to fill a financial hole in the accounts of one council directorate to make the books look a bit better, but that still leaves £65m to be accounted for.

Begging letter

Odd thing is that during the week LBTH released a media statement begging the government to honour its Covid-19 funding promise. In part this read “…as a result of the growing Covid-19 financial black hole, extra budget gaps mean that through its medium term financial strategy, the council needs to find an extra £60m by the end of the financial year 2023 – 24.”

Huh? Can’t account for the highest amount of money paid out to any council in London but desperate to get another load of cash?

Maybe Tower Hamlets Labour should have got receipts for the money they have already spent? It does seem to have been treating the coronavirus funding as petty cash.

Not transparent, not open

Mayor Biggs made much of his aim of making Tower Hamlets council a ‘beacon council’ that would shine a light on the path of open and transparent local government after getting elected post-Rahman.

Which was of course complete and utter bollocks. We know ‘cos we fell for it to.

Problem Mayor Biggs has now is that nobody trusts a word either he or anyone in his administrations says.

It may well be that every penny of the governments £78,818,000 coronavirus funding given to LBTH has been spent in a manner so fiscally prudent that the Governor of the Bank of England will be popping around to Mulberry Place for some financial tips.

If so what’s the problem with publishing details of where the money went?

EEE has asked for the data to be published in the same manner as the Payments to Suppliers data councils have to publish by law. Any payment over £500 is itemised.

We are not holding our breath until that happens. Instead we are analysing 10 years worth of Payment to Suppliers data that has been published because Moley is on the trail of something very interesting indeed.

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