Barnet Council’s leader claims the local authority is in a “much stronger position” than many of its neighbours as it faces mounting costs arising from the coronavirus pandemic.

Cllr Dan Thomas said the council had balanced its books over the past few years, leaving it better placed to deal with increasing financial pressures.

But he said the council would continue to ask for financial support from the Government “where and if necessary”.

Cllr Thomas was responding to a statement from the TaxPayers’ Alliance calling on the Government to avoid hiking taxes to cover the cost of the pandemic.

The lobby group has called for council tax to be frozen while the country tackles Covid-19.

Cllr Thomas said: “Thanks to our financial strategy, Barnet Council is in a much stronger position than many of our neighbours during this challenging time.

“Over the past few years, we have balanced our books, reducing costs and focusing on the services our residents most want and need. Some of our neighbours, however, have not improved their financial plans, and so despite receiving more per head in funding have found themselves in far more perilous positions than ours.

“While our forecasts are changing as the situation continues, we are currently anticipating a spend of tens of millions of pounds responding to the Covid-19 pandemic. We have already received £20 million from the Government to meet those costs — which could be neither planned for nor expected. Where and if necessary we will continue to ask for financial support from the Government.

“We have no power to raise council tax during the financial year, and so will not be asking residents for more money. I cannot stress enough how grateful I am to all our residents for working with the council to make Barnet a safe borough during these times.”

Other north London councils have sounded the alarm over council finances and called for more support from the Government.

Enfield Council’s leader Cllr Nesil Caliskan has written to the Prime Minister asking for assurances the Government would cover the full costs of the pandemic – which could be “in the region of £68 million”.

Cllr Caliskan warned “vital” public services could face cuts if the Government fails to step in.

Haringey Council’s leader Cllr Joseph Ejiofor has also called on the Government to “keep its promise” to reimburse councils for Covid-19 costs.

Cllr Ejiofor warned the council is “simply not funded to cover the cost of all the emergency measures” – and called £15.5 million of Government funding provided so far “a drop in the ocean”.

Barnet Council’s most recent medium-term financial strategy revealed it needed to close a £37 million budget gap by 2025 – despite plans to raise council tax every year.

It led Liberal Democrat Cllr Gabriel Rozenberg to warn the council was facing a “budget black hole” – a claim that was denied by Conservative councillors.