Northern Lib Dems call for 'urgent action' to support those hit by strict Covid rules
Liberal Democrats from northern England have called on the Government to take ‘urgent action’ to support local communities facing the impact of coronavirus restrictions.
In a letter, a group of Lib Dems have urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to work constructively with local political leaders who are ‘grounded’ in communities, with Covid-19 cases rising across the UK.
The group, the Northern Liberal Network, also warned that the north of England is too often “overlooked by a London-centric government”.
The letter was signed by the party’s former leader Tim Farron, as well as by councillors from across the north of England.
Laura Gordon, chair of the Northern Liberal Network, said that people are desperate for more financial support from Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
She said: “The Government’s strategy so far has failed. Restrictions in areas like Greater Manchester and the North East have been in place for months, yet they are still experiencing a huge spike in coronavirus cases.
“It is clear that urgent action is needed before hospitals become overwhelmed. But unless ministers start working with local leaders to overhaul and properly fund the test, trace and isolate system, these lockdown measures alone will do little to allow ministers to get a grip on this second wave.
“Equally, people in the north of England are desperate for more financial support from the Chancellor.
“Supporting those who need to self-isolate and can’t work from home, as well as extending the furlough scheme until next summer, would be an important start in getting control of the virus and saving livelihoods.”
At the end of last week, council chiefs in Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Sunderland confirmed in a group statement that the North East would remain in Tier 2 restrictions for the time being, despite speculation that the region could move to the ‘very high’ Covid alert level.
Together, they said they would oppose tougher restrictions being imposed and also backed calls for better financial support for affected businesses.
Discussions are also ongoing between Downing Street and leaders in Greater Manchester about a change to Tier 3.
The Northern Liberal Network added that there should be an extension of the furlough scheme, criticising the decision to end the scheme at the end of October as a “heartless choice”.