South Yorkshire leaders angry as county is at ‘disadvantage’ over Covid-19 cash

South Yorkshire ‘is at a disadvantage’ as national lockdown measures mean other areas in Tier 1 and 2 got the same equivalent financial package as the county did for moving into Tier 3.

Tuesday, 17th November 2020, 12:30 pm

The issue was raised by South Yorkshire council leaders as reports suggest that areas will move back into their respective tiers after December 2.

Barnsley Council leader Sir Steve Houghton said South Yorkshire is now in a ‘difficult position’ and is ‘no better off’ than other areas after being handed £30 million to move into Tier 3 restrictions.

Other areas were said to receive similar financial packages and could have an advantage over South Yorkshire in terms of Covid-19 relief resources, especially those moving back into Tier 1.

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Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis (right) and the four council leaders Sir Steve Houghton (top middle), Mayor Ros Jones (top left), Coun Chris Read (bottom middle) and Coun Julie Dore (bottom left)

Sheffield Council leader Julie Dore said the £30 million was ‘welcome’ but it was ‘not enough’. She added that too many people had ‘fallen through the cracks’.

Sheffield City Region announced they will help those who do not have access to the furlough scheme.

Coun Houghton said he has raised the issue with the Local Government Association and they are expected to question ministers on the matter.

“Unfortunately, we find ourselves in a difficult position with this now because prior to the national lockdown, £30 million was for ourselves in a Tier 3 area but now we’ve moved into lockdown, that money has had to be used to support that,” Coun Houghton said.

“At the same time, the Government has given equivalent amounts of money to other areas going into lockdown so we are now no better off than anywhere else in the country.

“When we come out of lockdown, the Government is now saying we will go back into our tier system. If we go back into Tier 3, and other areas go back into Tier 1 and 2, then they have a financial advantage over us.

“It’s important that this region gets extra cash to support that position when we hopefully come out of lockdown by December.

Coun Dore added: “I want to say how incredibly difficult it’s been for us – we all know £30 million is very welcome but it’s definitely not enough. I think that needs saying.

“When you look at all those individuals, organisations, small businesses, freelancers, the self-employed that have fallen through the cracks in the Government scheme, I think the work that we’ve done across South Yorkshire is incredibly difficult.

“I’m really pleased that we’ve all collectively concluded a common scheme across South Yorkshire that will help people where Government has allowed them to fall through the cracks.”

Doncaster mayor Ros Jones said residents in the region deserve better.

“We need to press Government hard, we should not be put at a disadvantage and our businesses and our residents deserve better than that,” she said.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.