AN opposition leader has claimed Southampton City Council has enough money to deal with the pandemic.

Cllr Dan Fitzhenry, leader of the Conservatives in Southampton, said the city council has received £7.4m from central government last month and it is expected to receive the same amount of money this month as the government has announced an extra £1.6bn to support local councils amid the coronavirus crisis.

The news comes as on Friday city council leader Councillor Christopher Hammond wrote to the Prime Minister asking for reassurance over the financial support the council will receive in the future.

Cllr Hammond said that the latest cash boost was welcomed but described it as "only a stop gap to ensure the immediate costs of the local response to COVID-19 can be covered".

But Cllr Fitzhenry said residents need to be reassured that they will continue to be supported.

He said: "We need to be clear that we have enough money to provide the important services that people need during this crisis because we will have received £15m from the government to do this."

He said this is not the time for a political debate about who is right or wrong.

But he added: "My intention is that the public is reassured that we have the money and the government are not leaving us in a position where we can't look after our residents. The government will provide sufficient resources. What we don't know is what our finances will look like over the coming months because we don't know yet the full cost of coronavirus and how long it will go on."

In his letter to Boris Johnson Councillor Hammond said that without assurances of funding, when the crisis ends councils will be "looking inward, delivering more cuts, charging higher fees and withdrawing services".

Responding to Councillor Fitzhenry, Councillor Hammond added: "Last week the government received over 50 letters from Leaders of Councils who reiterated the requirement for adequate funding when our income has fallen, expenditure has gone up and pressures have increased. This weekend’s promise of extra funding is welcome news for the city and I’m pleased that the Secretary of State has returned to previous Government assurances, to fund whatever is necessary in our collective efforts to fight the pandemic. The longer this goes on, the greater the impact and the more money we will need. Council services and collective action will be required as much in the recovery to the pandemic as it is dealing with the immediate effects. In the meantime, we will continue to do whatever it takes to beat this pandemic.”