Council leaders demand government backing during lockdown

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The leaders of 15 Lancashire councils have written to the government demanding financial support while the county is in lockdown.

A letter addressed to Sir Edward Lister, chief strategic advisor within the Prime Minister's Office, states that while the county agreed to enter a Tier 3 lockdown in October, the £30m promised in return has not materialised.

Further, the county was later subject to the national restrictions introduced in November, but the councils received no additional funding.

In part, the letter reads: "We ask you to note that parts of Lancashire have faced restrictions of one kind or another for longer than any other part of the country. For a county that already experiences significant structural inequalities and which will require considerable long term support to help us level up, this has been economically devastating; we are losing £328m every 28 days from our economy and we expect this to increase to £1bn in the run up to the Christmas period. The funding we have received is simply insufficient."

The letter concludes: "Lancashire local authorities have delivered on our side of the deal. We ask that you deliver on the trust placed in you by us and our residents and businesses and honour your promise of an equitable financial settlement for Lancashire."

Geoff Driver, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: "Before national lockdown we had long, detailed and constructive negotiations with government to agree a financial package for businesses affected as a result of Lancashire going into what was then tier three. This set the framework for the financial support being offered to other tier three areas and now the whole of England for going into national lockdown.

"However, we did not receive the support for the three-week period before the national lockdown when we were in tier three. I cannot stress enough how vital this funding is for business across the county which is why all of Lancashire's 15 leaders have set aside political differences to make the case to government to provide us with this support. It is really disappointing that we haven't had this, not least because Lancashire has been ready, willing and able to work with central government to support our people and businesses throughout this pandemic – and we remain so. I would urge government to pay us the money we are due.

"Looking forward, we don't know yet what tier or tiers Lancashire will be in, but it is clear that some if not all of the county will be facing significant restrictions and our businesses will continue to require support. So we are not only asking the government to act in good faith in terms of the commitments given in the past, but also for the future as we work together to emerge from this crisis."

The full letter can be viewed here.

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