“All English councils told to appoint ‘Brexit lead’ ” [funding = £57,000 per council*]

* If all councils given an equal share – except ports of entry will probably get more so other councils will get less.

“English councils have been told to designate a “Brexit lead” to work with central government to prepare for the possibility that the UK will leave the European Union with no deal at the end of October.

But a £20m funding pledge to help authorities step up preparations was immediately described as an “insult”, as the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) was forced to concede that the full amount had already been pledged in previous announcements.

In the new policy announced on Saturday, Robert Jenrick, the recently appointed communities secretary, instructed authorities to appoint staff in every community to plan intensively for Brexit with local stakeholders.

The funding was being made available for communications as well as for recruiting and training new staff, Jenrick said.

Officials were considering how best to allocate the cash to ensure that those areas facing more acute potential stresses, such as ports of entry, get the funding they need. Shared equally, it would amount to about £57,000 for each of England’s 353 councils and combined authorities, according to the Guardian’s calculation.

The Labour MP Jess Phillips said: “The idea that £20m across the 353 main councils of England is enough to prepare is an insult to our intelligence and to the hard work of public servants struggling with the consequences of the government’s decision to force a vicious Brexit on us.”

Criticism intensified after a MHCLG spokeswoman admitted half the pledged funding comes from the chancellor Sajid Javid’s £2.1bn announcement on Thursday. The other half comes from funding announced by the department in January, she added.

“This offers no new money and no new ideas for how to address the cliff-edge councils are facing,” Andrew Gwynne, the shadow communities secretary, said.

The Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine added: “This extra money is a drop in the ocean for cash-strapped councils desperately concerned about what no-deal Brexit will mean for crucial public services in their areas.”

Councils across the country welcomed the funding but highlighted the shortfall they are already facing.

Kevin Bentley, the chairman of the Brexit taskforce at the Local Government Association, said: “With councils already facing a funding gap of more than £3bn in 2019/20, it is more important now than ever that councils receive the resources they need for their ongoing Brexit preparations.

“There remains information and advice gaps that councils are facing while helping their communities prepare, which need to be met by the government.

“Councils also need certainty to plan for their communities over the longer term, such as on the domestic replacement for EU funding.”