The Liverpool City Region’s councils still face an enormous funding blackhole from the coronavirus pandemic despite another round of government support.
Whitehall announced on Thursday that it was giving councils another £500 million to help meet the costs of the crisis.
But while Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram welcomed the additional funding, he said the city region’s share was likely to be “nowhere near enough” to cover the £341m bill councils expect to incur as a result of the crisis.
Mr Rotheram said: “The government promised it would provide councils with ‘whatever it takes’ but if this is supposed to be the comprehensive funding package which we have been promised, then it falls far short of what we need.
“I’m hoping that it is just another instalment, and if so, the Government needs to make that clear.”
Although the government has not yet released details of how the money will be divided up, analysis by the ECHO suggests the city region’s share could amount to between £13.5 million and £18.6 million depending on whether the money is allocated according to population or need.
On top of the £500 million announced today, the government said it will also help make up some of the losses councils have incurred through decreased income from sales, fees and charges.
However, councils will not receive payment for the first 5% of losses, and will then only be reimbursed for 75% of the rest of their losses.
This could leave councils like Sefton, which expects a £15.6 million reduction in income from fees and charges, receiving only £11.1 million.
Announcing the new funding, communities secretary Robert Jenrick said: “Today I am providing a further package of support that takes our support for councils during this pandemic to £4.3 billion to help meet the immediate pressures councils are facing.
“I know that the loss of revenue from car parks and leisure centres has created huge difficulties, so I am introducing a new scheme to help cover these losses.
“This government will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with councils and communities as we recover from this pandemic as we renew our commitment to unite and level up the country.”
But Mr Rotheram said: “We will be able to make a full judgement when we have the detail, but this appears to be guaranteeing that councils will not recover at least a quarter of their lost revenues.”
So far, the city region has received just £100 million from central government, despite forecasting an overall bill more than three times that number.
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Mr Rotheram added: “Our six local authorities in the Liverpool City Region have responded magnificently to the challenge of coronavirus but they can’t be expected to carry on living ‘hand to mouth’.
“As we laid out directly to the pPrime minister in our ‘Case for the City Region’ report at the end of May, COIVD-19 has cost our local authorities £341 million in six months in extra expenditure and lost revenue. As yet, we have received no response.
“We’ll also need to understand the funding formula that the Government has used.
“It is vital that allocations are based on the actual level of need for each authority, rather than just population numbers, and that is particularly important for us in the Liverpool City Region, as we have been hit harder by COVID-19 than many other areas.”