The Case for the Liverpool City Region: The impact of Covid-19 is greater in the Liverpool City Region than anywhere else.
That’s the clear message to the Government from the Liverpool City Region’s Metro Mayor and all political leaders across the City Region who are asking for fair funding to help them avoid devastating consequences for the people of Merseyside.
In a direct letter to the Prime Minister, backed up by a detailed paper entitled ‘The Case for the Liverpool City Region’, this collective action from local leaders warns that recovery from the local health, economic and social crisis caused by Covid-19 represents the greatest challenge the area has faced since 1945. And whilst local authorities have been working round the clock to mobilise the unprecedented levels of support currently needed in the region, that challenge is far from over, with the area experiencing higher than average infection and mortality rates.
In fact, councils across the City Region are spending an extra £10m a week to protect local residents and over the next six months they estimate the bill is likely to be around £341m, with the Combined Authority also losing over £5m a week. With only £100m allocated so far from central Government, concern is growing that local authorities here are staring into a funding black-hole of almost a quarter of a billion pounds.
Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region commented:
“At the beginning of this crisis, local authorities were told by Government to do “whatever it takes” to support communities. That’s what we have done – and the response from our local councils has been nothing short of incredible.
But this response comes at a cost – and the figures involved are just startling. This is expenditure that we haven’t made by choice, but by necessity. We are putting food on the table for families who would otherwise go hungry, housing the homeless, co-ordinating a massive volunteer response, supporting those who are out of work due to the crisis, supplying PPE to our frontline workers and care homes, keeping transport running for essential journeys and doing everything we can to help local businesses stay afloat. For an area still fighting its way through funding cuts, whilst managing higher levels of deprivation and illness than other areas in the UK, it is a monumental task.
Our bill to deliver all this is £341m for six months – and that’s before you even consider the prospect of a prolonged period of lockdown or worse still, a second peak of infection.
The sums of money involved are a stark indication of the devastating impact of Covid-19 on our communities. With a higher percentage of our population falling into the ‘at risk’ categories than in many other areas in the UK, the levels of support we’ve needed to provide have also been disproportionately higher.”
As the nation looks hopefully towards the recovery phase of this crisis, local leaders are warning that the City Region will find it almost impossible to bounce back if its local authorities are devastated by funding deficits running into hundreds of millions and are not supported by government.”
Cllr Rob Polhill, Leader of Halton Borough Council added: “During this crisis, it has been the very vulnerable in our communities who have suffered the most – those with poor health who have had to stay indoors; those already struggling on low incomes who haven’t been able to work and those who rely on care in their daily lives – these are the same people who have suffered as a result of a decade of austerity.”
“As Councils we have stepped in to make sure families have food on their table and have given those feeling isolated a connection to the outside world. We’ve ensured our frontline staff are protected as they look after our older community in care homes or at home and kept vital services going. We’ve done all of this because it’s the right thing for our community.
It’s now time for Government to do the right thing and to honour their promise on funding, so that as we emerge from this crisis, we are in a position to continue with our work to address the health issues and inequalities that exist in our community and build a future where local people can thrive and prosper.”
Steve Rotheram added: “The people of the Liverpool City Region are resourceful, proud and passionate. They have shown great resolve in fighting this virus and supporting each other. With their help and with the support of local services we have the foundations to build a positive future after this crisis, but we need help to make that happen.
Throughout this pandemic, Government has turned to local authorities and Mayoral Combined Authorities like ours to deliver on the promises it makes from Whitehall on a daily basis. We have done that, consistently. Now we need them to keep their promise to do “whatever it takes” by giving us the funding that we need to see our people and our communities through this major global crisis.”