THE Leader of Bury Council has joined Andy Burnham in calling on the Government to cover the deficit facing councils and public bodies as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester and the leaders of the 10 local authorities, including Bury Council leader Cllr Eamonn O'Brien, held an emergency meeting on Wednesday to discuss the financial impact of the pandemic across the city-region.

Recent analysis by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and the 10 councils showed a £368m deficit facing local government in Greater Manchester, as a result of additional expenditure and loss of regular income.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: "Councils across the country have faced huge challenges, and public servants in our city-region have put in a heroic effort to support people throughout the crisis. However, without urgent support, this funding crisis will engulf local government and endanger the vital services that councils provide to the people of Greater Manchester.

"Today, our councils have made a clear, united call on the Government to cover in full the shortfall in this year’s budget, protecting the jobs and services we all rely on. This is about maintaining a sense of national unity, and the strength of our recovery will depend on the strength of the relationship between national and local government. If that commitment is not made, there is a real risk that councils will not be able to cope."

Leaders passed a motion noting the change to policy that will come into effect on Saturday 4 July, and that these changes “will increase the funding pressure on local councils and that it is essential that they are properly resourced to manage them."

Cllr Eamonn O'Brien, Leader of Bury Council, said: "What's becoming clear to everybody in local government, across all political parties, across all types of councils, is that the Government is going to have to put money into the local government system. At this stage, the Government knows - and the Prime Minister knows - the scale of the challenge, and it's important that we keep up the pressure.

"It's that ability to draw together the entire borough which local government can do. That's our range of businesses, our business leaders, our housing providers, our health colleagues, our community and faith groups, our volunteers, our care homes. My worry about the Government not giving us what they promised is that we risk losing what has been a key part in the response to COVID."

The Mayor has also warned that without clear messaging and up-to-date information, public health could be put at risk by the easing of lockdown measures.