Liverpool leaders call for fair funding during pandemic

Steve Rotheram has stressed to the government that the impact of coronavirus is greater in the Liverpool City Region than anywhere else, and asked for fair funding to help the city region 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 coronavirus represents the greatest challenge the area has faced since 1945. The area is currently experiencing higher than average infection and mortality rates.

Councils across the City Region are spending an extra £10 million a week to protect local residents and over the next six months they estimate the bill is likely to be around £341 million, with the Combined Authority also losing over £5 million a week. With only £100 million allocated so far from the 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, said: “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 £341 million 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.”