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'Immoral': Mayor informed of £22 million for Greater Manchester during press conference

A Labour MP tweeted that they had been informed the £22 million would only go towards helping the test and trace system.

Manchester mayor Andy Burnham is shown a text message by the leader of Manchester City Council of when the restrictions will come into force.
Manchester mayor Andy Burnham is shown a text message by the leader of Manchester City Council of when the restrictions will come into force.

THE ROW BETWEEN the UK government and Manchester politicians over the implementation of strict Covid-19 measures has escalated this evening.

Talks had taken place between Manchester and Westminster politicians about additional supports to supplement the ‘very high’ or Tier 3 Covid-19 restrictions.

But Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, who has been fronting the call for supports, said talks collapsed after the UK government refused to meet his demand for £65 million to support the livelihoods of people in the region as they face the closure of pubs, bars, bookmakers and other premises.

Whitehall insiders in turn accused the Labour mayor of “intransigence” and claimed his “pride” had scuppered a deal.

Amid the bitter recriminations between politicians in Westminster and Manchester, the lives of 2.8 million people will be placed under tougher curbs on Friday.

virus-outbreak-britain Graffiti reading 'The north is not a petri dish' in Manchester city centre. Source: Jon Super

Pubs and bars will be closed (unless they are serving substantial meals) for a 28-day period, along with betting shops, casinos, bingo halls, adult gaming centres and soft play areas.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said regulations will be laid in Parliament on Thursday and come into force on Friday, just after midnight.

“I know that these restrictions are tough, both on businesses and individuals – believe me, no-one wants to be putting these things into effect,” Johnson said.

The £90/65/60/22 million deal for Manchester

Addressing reporters in Manchester, Burnham said leaders of the authorities in Greater Manchester had originally wanted £90 million – £15 million a month until the end of the financial year – to protect incomes for people forced out of work.

They reduced that sum eventually to £65 million, but ministers would only offer £60 million.

Burnham said £65 million was the “bare minimum to prevent a winter of real hardship” over a “punishing” winter.

That is what we believe we needed to prevent poverty, to prevent hardship, to prevent homelessness. Those were the figures that we had – not what we wanted – but what we needed to prevent all of those things from happening.

When asked whether the fight over £5 million was worth the hassle, Burnham said that it matters to minimum-wage workers (you can see his response to that question here).

While giving these comments to a scrum of media this afternoon, Burnham was informed that the British government would offer £22 million while being filmed.

Burnham said that it was “brutal” and “disgraceful”.

“This is no way to run the country in a national crisis.” 

Sky News is reporting that a £60 million deal to support businesses is still on offer, if the Manchester mayor accepts it. The British government is claiming that Burnham walked away from the table.

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coronavirus-tue-oct-20-2020 Manchester mayor Andy Burnham speaks to the media outside Bridgewater Hall. Source: PA

Labour MP for Wigan and shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy tweeted:

In ten years in Parliament I’ve never seen anything like this. MPs are on a call with the Health Secretary being told Greater Manchester is getting only £22m while our Mayor is at a press conference being told by the media. This is bad faith, it’s immoral – just disgraceful
We were told £22m is for test and trace, not a single extra penny promised to help businesses and minimum wage workers. The Government appears to be waging war on the people of Greater Manchester. I grew up under Thatcher but I’ve honestly never seen anything like this.

Labour MP for Manchester Lucy Powell tweeted

Two reasons GM needing more support: We have been locked in Tier 2 plus for 3 months with no extra support so businesses already on their knees.
It’s not an issue of just population but size of economy & businesses density. GM bigger than other places.

With reporting from Gráinne Ní Aodha

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