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Council asks for millions to help save jobs

Middlesbrough is now in Tier 3. There are restrictions on some businesses, and meeting people. Get the latest local updates.

Middlesbrough Council today sets out its hopes to support businesses and families through Covid while pushing on with building a brighter future.

The Council has asked for £7.4m in government funding to deal with the immediate health and economic impacts of the latest coronavirus restrictions.

The request includes more than £3m in support for businesses struggling as a result of the new measures.

And ministers are also being urged to fast-track about £44m in Towns Fund and Future High Streets Fund payments that would kickstart plans to overhaul the town centre.

Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston said today he wanted to work with government to protect wellbeing and save jobs while not losing sight of life beyond the pandemic 

Mr Preston said: "We're making a sensible and proportionate ask of government that balances the need to act decisively on Covid with planning for the future and the likely after effects of the virus.

"Council staff have done unbelievable work throughout the pandemic - from protecting care homes and delivering food to people in their hour of need all the way through to contact tracing work that prevented more people becoming infected.

"We want to use more of our local insight around testing and tracing and build our capacity to protect those most at risk.

"We all sincerely hope the restrictions imposed on Middlesbrough last week stop the virus in its tracks and keep people safe. 

"But we definitely know the rules on socialising are hurting local businesses and in all likelihood will kill jobs within weeks unless we can step in and make sure people can provide for their families."

The Council's proposal is based on local understanding of the health inequalities that leave Middlesbrough's population vulnerable to Covid and the likely impact on the town's economy of the ban on social mixing.

On the request for the immediate payment of Middlesbrough's Towns Fund and Future High Streets Fund bids, Mr Preston added: "Our vision for a vibrant town centre boasting a mix of attractive homes, national and independent businesses and the best leisure facilities for miles around was recognised by government when times weren't as hard.

"Now that Covid is hitting us hard things couldn't be more urgent. By working hand in hand with government we can show there is light at the end of the tunnel and demonstrate to families and businesses that happier times lie ahead.

"We're desperate to do what's required now to save jobs and protect people's wellbeing while at the same time forging ahead with building Middlesbrough's future."

Alongside the request for financial support, the Council has reiterated its desire to co-design a framework that would show clearly how local restrictions could be lifted in a consistent fashion across the country.

The £7.4m proposal to government includes funding for:

  • Testing: Extra capacity with a greater emphasis on access for care homes, other settings for vulnerable people and teachers
  • Extended tracing: Local tracing work led by environmental health officers has proved invaluable in understanding outbreaks and how to respond
  • Support for Care Homes: Providing safe transfer from hospital and the community into care homes and preventing Covid-positive patients being discharged directly into care homes
  • Covid-secure measures: Extending the Council's existing work to support small businesses keep their staff and customers safe
  • Education and enforcement: Working with Cleveland Police, the Council wants to promote understanding of the restrictions and take enforcement action where necessary
  • Direct business support: The Council has asked for over £3m to help businesses affected by the restrictions, in the knowledge that the hospitality industry is already suffering less than one week in to the new restrictions
  • Flu vaccine: In the context of Covid, a rapid and broad take-up of the vaccine is essential and the Council would like to discuss additional supplies to protect the town's vulnerable communities
  • Support for vulnerable children and adults: The spread of Covid is again likely to disproportionately affect vulnerable and disadvantaged people. Arrangements are needed to re-establish the ‘Help Boro' support
  • Homelessness and asylum seeker temporary accommodation: Those with no access to public funds are at high risk from Covid. Dedicated support can protect them and prevent the spread of infection.

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