Ann McGauran 19 October 2020

Greater Manchester's mayor will not 'roll over' on COVID cash

Greater Manchester’s standoff with government on moving to new tier three COVID-19 restrictions continues today, with mayor Andy Burham saying he will not ‘roll over’ at the sight of a cheque.

Speaking on Sky News this morning, Mr Burnham said he had spoken to the Government yesterday ‘and I’ve made it clear that we’re willing to talk and want to resolve this.’

He said he had written to the main leaders in Westminster, including the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, adding: ‘Tier three is a serious thing, it’s a serious development if we are to ask people to go into [it], just before Christmas, closing a large number of places of work. People can’t just be pressurised into it.’

‘And I’m not going to be pressured into it. I’m not just going to roll over at the sight of a cheque’, he continued. ‘This is about properly supporting those people whose lives will be damaged by tier three.’

In the letter, Mr Burham said he and the mayors of the Liverpool City Region and North of Tyne, had set out on Friday what they believed was the ‘minimum level of support that should come with tier three status’. He said this was a ‘full and fair furlough scheme for all affected workers, covering 80% of an employee’s regular wage or at least half the national minimum wage’.

He added: ‘We believe this should be paid to workers in businesses forced to close but also those in the supply chain that can provide evidence of a major loss of trade caused by closures.’

Mr Burham also said they had called for a ‘self-employed Income Support Scheme set at 80% of average monthly income’,  available to ‘those who can provide evidence of a major loss of trade arising from tier 3 closures, including freelancers’, along with an improved compensation scheme for businesses directly or indirectly impacted based on the national scheme on rateable values’.

He said that establishing ‘clear national entitlements of the kind we had during the first lockdown’ would create a sense of fairness, ‘which would help build public support for and compliance with, the new restrictions’.

Speaking on Sky News this morning, local government secretary Richard Jenrick said  further discussions with council leaders in Manchester will go ahead today’ and it was ‘now time for local leaders, including the mayor, to show flexibility’.

He added:  The contours of an agreement are there. I’m hopeful we will reach a sensible agreement agreement with Greater Manchester leaders today.’

Visit The MJ (£) for more on this story.

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