In any performance table expect Labour Sandwell MBC to be at the bottom.

Contrary to the story peddled in local Labour leaflets that Sandwell is always neglected, the government has provided financial assistance to Sandwell for small businesses harmed in the coronavirus crisis.

The problem is that administration of the scheme is entrusted to this local authority.

The government allotted £73million for businesses in Sandwell. The latest available figures show that only 24.87% of that, a little over £17 million, has been distributed. This puts Sandwell bottom but one of all the local authorities in England.

The vast majority of councils have achieved a better than 50% distribution rate.

The purpose of the scheme is to help businesses, particularly small businesses, who may experience cash flow difficulties as a result of the lockdown. Sandwell businesses which go bust because the council is slow to cough up and local people who lose their jobs as a result need to know where the blame lies.

An example of local Labour’s fake news was Cllr. Luke Giles whingeing to newspapers “if the government doesn’t start doshing out money quick….then residents will see services disappearing”

Giles was talking in the context of the increased expenses the council will face as a result of coronavirus. This is estimated at £14million. The usually voluble Luke did not mention the council’s £27 million in reserves. Nor that the government had given £21.6 million to Sandwell to cover this extra expense.

The truth can so often spoil a good story. And everyone in Sandwell knows Luke has difficulty adding up, certainly where election expenses are involved.