An emerging story this year has been that councils across Yorkshire are facing extreme financial difficulty coming out of the pandemic. Sheffield, Leeds, and North Yorkshire, some of the region’s largest authorities covering millions of residents, have all flagged the need for emergency financial support.
The reason that this is worthy of appearing in this calendar, is the scandalous lack of response from the government. These are costs that have been brought on by the pandemic, and, while the government has simply been able to borrow more to cover costs like furlough, test and trace, and the vaccination programme, councils have much less leeway.
Local authorities have had to undertake significant extra burdens, such as supporting rough sleepers, setting up local test and trace centres after the failure of the government programme, and limiting the spread of coronavirus in care homes.
Yet, despite the government’s rhetoric on levelling up, little has been proposed to fill in this black hole opened by the pandemic.
A report by the Yorkshire Post found that the shortfall among Yorkshire councils amounted to £273m. This sort of money is insignificant to Westminster coffers, but without it councils risk cutting essential services and levelling down the standard of living for millions of Yorkshire residents.
It is important to call attention to this scandalous inaction, and call on the government to step up its response.
Check out the rest of the advent calendar’s entries here, and stay tuned for more releases!