FUNDING for North West local authorities affected by new lockdown restrictions has been described as “pitiful” by one of St Helens’ MPs.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced this morning that parts of the region – including Merseyside – will be subject to the same restrictions brought into the North East earlier this week.

Regulations will be brough in to prevent, in law, social mixing between different households in all settings, except outdoor public spaces, such as parks and outdoor hospitality.

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The regulations will apply to the Liverpool City Region, Warrington, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough.

Mr Hancock also told MPs in Parliament that the Government will provide £7 million of funding to local authorities in these areas to support their “vital work”.

Liverpool City Region politicians have been in talks with ministers all week and they they have been pushing hard, publicly and privately, for a package of support to accompany any new measures.

However, Marie Rimmer, MP for St Helens South and Whiston, has slammed the Government’s £7 million offering.

Back in May the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority said that local authorities in the city region were facing a £241 million funding black hole from the coronavirus crisis.

Ms Rimmer, the former leader of St Helens Council, said local authorities are up against the biggest challenge for generations, but warned they are “not getting the funding they need”.

St Helens Star: Marie Rimmer, Labour MP for St Helens South and WhistonMarie Rimmer, Labour MP for St Helens South and Whiston

“The health and wellbeing of our community is my number one concern,” Ms Rimmer said.

“With this in mind, I welcome the measures that will help to keep all of us safe. I know that with each new set of restrictions, things are getting more confusing and more difficult.

“The strain it is taking on mental health alone cannot be underestimated.

“St Helens Borough Council alone is set to have a £25 million funding gap from coping with coronavirus due to a lack of Government support.

“Yet this extra £7 million is supposed to cover all of Merseyside, Halton, Warrington and parts of the North East. Quite frankly, it is a pitiful amount.

“Local councils have been stripped to the bare bones over the past decade, and now when they face the biggest challenge for generations, they are not getting the funding they need.”

St Helens Star: Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced the new lockdown measures in Parliament on Thursday morning Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced the new lockdown measures in Parliament on Thursday morning

Ms Rimmer also accused Downing Street of “poor communication and incompetence” over the handling of today’s lockdown announcement.

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“Once again the Government has given local authorities less than 24 hours to prepare,” she said.

“This is simply not good enough and it shows a continuous trend of poor communication and incompetence.

“Both of which have become far too familiar over the course of this crisis.”