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Lancashire councillors criticise government for ‘lack of financial help’ in fight against Covid-19

Posted on - 9th August, 2020 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Health, Politics, Preston News
Labour County Councillors John Fillis and Julie Gibson
Labour County Councillors John Fillis and Julie Gibson

Labour councillors from Lancashire County Council are accusing the government of failing to ‘live up to promises’ in funding councils in their fight against Covid-19.

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Lancashire County Council’s Cabinet was informed in a recent meeting that the effects of the pandemic will have a significant impact on the finances of the Council in the current and forthcoming years.

Treasury Management estimates Government unfunded Covid costing of £22.602 million in the first quarter.

According to the Labour councillors, estimated ongoing financial pressures suggest that without significant high-level intervention, action will need to be taken to reduce spending to meet the potential funding gap for 2021/22 and beyond.

Revised forecasts predict a funding gap totalling £170.583 million in the next four years.

Read more: Preston goes into local lockdown from midnight on Friday August 7

Councillor John Fillis, Labour Deputy Leader, said “This Conservative Government’s response of chaos and confusion when it comes to the Covid crisis will cost the people of Lancashire dearly.

“They have offered support built on broken promises and backsliding. We should be making this government accountable and pay up what they promised local people.”

The Labour councillors say the financial situation remains fluid with precise impacts being unclear, however the County Council has put an estimated pressure of £100 million as a result of emergency funding including purchasing increased PPE, creation of a temporary mortuary, delayed savings and lost income.

Councillor John Fillis added: “At present many services are not being delivered and future services will be cut by the council leaving the people of Lancashire paying more for less, not only now but for many years to come.

Stock image of cash Pic: Stux from Pixabay
Labour Councillor John Fillis does not think the government has done enough to help local councils during the pandemic. Pic: Stux from Pixabay

“It’s not surprising that the current Conservative administration’s answer to all this is to cut and run during the Covid crisis by fiddling with local government reorganisation while Lancashire burns. The people of Lancashire deserve better than this.”

Read more: Prestonians urged to help with Covid-19 test and trace programme

In the same meeting, the County Council has welcomed funding grants from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to aid small and medium sized businesses.

County Councillor Julie Gibson, the Labour Shadow Cabinet Member for Economic Development, has welcomed the European money for businesses announced at the recent Cabinet Meeting but has called on the Cabinet to develop a sustainable financial strategy with banks and financial institutions. 

Councillor Gibson said: “LCC is seeking £1,544,072 of European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) resources to deliver Covid-19 Recovery Grants.

“The Grants will form part of a national programme to support small and medium sized enterprises to adapt to new trading conditions in order to aid recovery from the impact of Covid-19, and will be administered by the Lancashire Business Growth Hub BOOST.

“Lancashire businesses are currently facing unprecedented change due to the economic crisis caused by Covid. This funding will help many businesses to reposition themselves in the labour market. 

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“Lancashire County Council can only do so much directly with the European funding, but we can do a lot more by working with the financial institutions to develop a Lancashire Good Finance Agreement in order to reassure businesses.

“If we are going to ‘Build Back Better’ we must build a better financial service for small and medium businesses to gain a long term sustainable economy in Lancashire.”

Read more: Winckley Square pop-up cycle lane to be removed

Lancashire County Council has been approached for comment.

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Do you think the county has been helped enough during lockdown? Let us know in the comments below.

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