Mayor’s plea to Prime Minister over mounting cost to city of coronavirus

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Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson has written to the Prime Minister outlining in stark terms the cost of the coronavirus crisis to Liverpool City Council.

In his letter to Boris Johnson, he reveals the local authority forecasts £73 million in lost income and additional costs as a result of dealing with COVID-19, in addition to £30 million of savings the council has to find this year.

This includes loss of income from leisure centres, car parking as well as loss of business rates and council tax payments due to companies going bust and people struggling financially.

The council’s Citizen Support Scheme – which makes emergency payments to people in crisis – has already seen a 150 per cent increase in demand.

Mayor Anderson calls on the government to give “unwavering and unequivocal backing” to councils.

He writes: “Any sign that Government is not prepared to stand by its original promise to pay the costs of COVID, will be devastating for public services affecting every walk of life across the country.

“Government’s initial promise to Local Government that it will receive all the support it needed to deal with the crisis was an example of British Government at its best. Put money and resources where it can have the biggest impact; and let all levels of Government work together to tackle the greatest crisis our population and our economy have faced in several generations.

“Now, more than ever, you must stand by that vision. The alternative is that for the people who depend on our services, the staff of the NHS and public services, and the businesses in our city, the virus will win.”

The letter was sent before today’s announcement of £1.6 billion additional funding nationally for local government by Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick.

The full text of the letter is below

Dear Prime Minister,

I trust that you are recuperating well from this devastating virus.

It can’t have escaped your notice during your treatment, that you have experienced what the public
sector does best – cares for those who need it the most, without prejudice, without judgement, without hesitation and without qualification. Purely based on need.

Right now my council, along with every other council across the country, red, blue, yellow and every
combination in between, are making sure that everyone with a need receives our help.

In Liverpool, we are providing PPE to care homes and food to people who are shielding, both where
national supplies have failed. We provided vouchers to replace free school meals, before national
government took over, because our children would have gone hungry. We housed our rough
sleepers in hotels and other accommodation, before national government told us to, because we are
proud of being able to say that there is “Always Room Inside”.

We have seen the need for our citizen support service rise by 150% because of the rise in
unemployment and a Universal Credit that was designed to punish rather than support people when
they need it most. We have processed £40m of Business Support Grant in an astonishingly short amount of time to employers who need the cash injection to protect employees who need to know they have a job when this is all over.

Meanwhile, like significant parts of the economy, our income has dropped to almost zero. The result is that, while delivering real services on the ground, we expect £73m additional costs related to the virus. (On top of the £30 million we are still expected to cut in our tenth year of austerity.) A situation not dissimilar to every council in the country.

Right now Local Government, including Liverpool, needs your unwavering and unequivocal backing. There is no point being a General on a Hill rallying your troops with empty promises as you pick their pockets.

Any sign that Government is not prepared to stand by its original promise to pay the costs of
COVID, will be devastating for public services affecting every walk of life across the country.
Government’s initial promise to Local Government that it will receive all the support it needed to deal with the crisis was an example of British Government at its best. Put money and resources where it can have the biggest impact; and let all levels of Government work together to tackle the greatest crisis our population and our economy have faced in several generations.

Now, more than ever, you must stand by that vision. The alternative is that for the people who depend on our services, the staff of the NHS and public services, and the businesses in our city, the virus will win.

Yours sincerely,

Joe Anderson
Mayor of Liverpool