City region secures extra £30m in COVID support

Liverpool city region was placed under Tier 3 COVID-19 restrictions last week and now Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram has secured extra support for businesses from the Government. Tony McDonough reports

Steve Rotheram
Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram. Picture by Tony McDonough

 

Liverpool city reigned has secured an extra £30m from the Government to support businesses hit by the latest COVID-19 restrictions.

From Wednesday, October 14, the Government put Liverpool, Wirral, Sefton, Knowsley, St Helens and Halton into Tier 3 controls measures. This is the highest state of alert and it meant pubs, betting shops, adult gaming centre, leisure centres and gyms had to close.

Since the change was first mooted likely more than a week ago Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram and the six local authority leaders have been pushing for extra financial support. They fear widespread business closures and job losses.

READ MORE: Mersey leaders challenge gym closures

They said Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s latest “furlough-lite” scheme, that will see the Government pay 67% of employees wages and monthly cash grants for businesses of up to £3,000, was inadequate. Late last week the City Region Combined authority unveiled a £40m emergency support fund for stricken hospital businesses. Now the CA has secured another £30m from the Government.

This is in addition to the £14m already received to support the local test, trace and isolate system and COVID-19 enforcement efforts. The city region also received £7m when it went in to Tier 2 status, meaning a total package of £51m so far.

Speaking on behalf of the city region political leaders, Mr Rotheram said: “Once it became clear that Tier 3 restrictions were going to be imposed on our city region, we held a series of meetings with the Government, throughout last weekend, with the aim of protecting our NHS and supporting local people and businesses.

“We have been absolutely clear since we were put in to Tier 3 that we would continue to press the Government and hold meaningful dialogue to secure vitally needed extra economic support.

“This is welcome news for our economy and the thousands of people whose businesses and jobs will now be supported through this very difficult period.”

On Saturday, Mr Rotheram wrote an article for the FT in which he accused the Government of “taking actions that spread division” and that “this should be a time when we set aside political point-scoring and and focus all our energies on beating a deadly virus”.

He said: “Instead of working with us over the summer to devolve the power and resources that regions need to tackle the crisis in our areas, I’m worried that we have now entered the era of “devo blame”.

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