This is the clear message to the government from all the leaders in our region who are calling for a fair funding agreement to help them avoid devastating consequences for the people of Merseyside.
The mayor of the metropolitan area, Steve Rotheram, and all the heads of council of the area launched a direct and urgent appeal to the Prime Minister, supported by a detailed report entitled “The file of the area of Liverpool”.
The collective intervention of local leaders warns that the recovery from the local health, economic and social crisis caused by Covid-19 represents the greatest challenge the region has faced since 1945.
And while local authorities are working tirelessly to mobilize the unprecedented levels of support currently needed in the region, this challenge is far from over, with the region experiencing above-average infection and mortality rates.
In fact, city area councils are spending an additional £ 10 million a week to protect local residents and over the next six months they estimate the bill will likely be around £ 341 million, l ‘Combined authority also losing more than £ 5 million a week.
With only £ 100 million allocated to date from the central government, concern is growing that local authorities are seeing a funding black hole of almost a quarter of a billion pounds.
The government report makes it clear that the region is facing a perfect storm with this lack of funding and the high rates of infection and mortality affecting part of the country facing pre-existing poverty and health challenges.
The report warns: “It is clear that COVID-19 poses an even greater risk to the Liverpool region than to the rest of the country.
“Both the infection and death rates are significantly higher in the city area than elsewhere – probably a consequence of the higher incidence of COPD and higher levels of deprivation.
“These important risk factors mean that the economic, health and social impacts of COVID-19 are felt more desperately and more intensely in the city area.
“If local authorities in the city region are to continue to respond effectively to the challenges of COVID-19 and then advance the essential leadership of the recovery effort, they must be provided with the resources to do so. “
This appears to be confirmed by the latest Covid-19 infection rates, which, as of May 20, showed that Merseyside had 5,049 diagnoses of the virus, at a rate of 353.1 per 100,000.
This is significantly higher than the rate of 259.0 per 100,000 in England and shows that we are going down the pandemic curve more slowly than in many other regions.
All councils in the region fear that the government’s promise to do “whatever it takes” to support local authorities during the crisis has not been kept.
Liverpool Council bosses have discussed the need to file an emergency expense report due to a £ 44 million gap between what he spent and what he received.
Authorities in Wirral, Sefton, St Helens, Knowsley and Halton have also expressed serious concerns that they could also run out of money if the government did not intervene.
Major concerns were also raised during the second allocation of funds, the issue of deprivation having been removed as a factor in the calculation, which means that our communities in difficulty were in a worse situation.
The detailed report aims to “demonstrate how the government funding allocated to our local authorities to date is totally insufficient to meet existing and growing demands for our services”.
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Steve Rotheram, mayor of the Liverpool metropolitan area, said: “At the start of this crisis, local authorities were asked by the government to do” whatever it takes “to support communities. That’s what we did – and the response from our local councils was simply incredible.
“But there is a cost to this response – and the numbers involved are simply surprising. These are expenses that we did not make by choice, but by necessity.
“We are putting food on the table for families who would otherwise go hungry, shelter the homeless, coordinate massive volunteer action, support those who are unemployed due to the crisis, provide PPE to our Front line workers and care homes keep transportation running for essential travel and do everything we can to help local businesses stay afloat.
“For a region that continues to make its way through budget cuts, while managing higher levels of deprivation and illness than in other parts of the UK, this is a monumental task.
“Our bill to deliver all of this is £ 341 million for six months – and that is before we even consider the prospect of an extended lockout period or worse, a second peak of infection.
“The amounts of money involved are a vivid 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 parts of the UK, the levels of support we had to provide were also disproportionately higher. “
As the nation hopefully looks to the recovery phase of this crisis, local leaders warn that it will be nearly impossible to rebound if local authorities are devastated by funding shortfalls of hundreds of millions and are not supported by the government.
Metro Rotheram Mayor added: “The people of the Liverpool area are resourceful, proud and passionate. They have shown great determination to fight this virus and to support each other. With their help and with the support of local services, we have the foundation to build a positive future after this crisis, but we need help to get there.
“Throughout this pandemic, the government has turned to local and combined mayoral authorities like ours to keep the promises it makes of Whitehall on a daily basis.
“We did it consistently. Now we need them to keep their promise to do “whatever it takes” by giving us the funding we need to see our people and communities through this major global crisis. “