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Sun, 29 November 2020

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Boris Johnson Claims Greater Manchester Will Get An Extra £60m For Entering Tier 3 Lockdown Despite A Collapse In Talks With Andy Burnham

Boris Johnson Claims Greater Manchester Will Get An Extra £60m For Entering Tier 3 Lockdown Despite A Collapse In Talks With Andy Burnham

Boris Johnson appeared to suggest Greater Manchester would be getting an extra £60million in financial support for entering a Tier 3 lockdown (PA)

4 min read

Boris Johnson said Greater Manchester will still be handed an extra £60million in financial support to enter a Tier 3 lockdown despite talks over a deal with local leaders collapsing yesterday.

The prime minister seemed to suggest the government would now bypass the region’s mayor Andy Burnham and distribute the cash “to the boroughs”, but it is unclear how this will be done.

This was later confirmed by the communities secretary Robert Jenrick, who tweeted: “I’ve written to the local council leaders of Greater Manchester inviting them to work with us at pace to design their business support schemes and ensure the funding reaches the people and businesses who need it.

"My officials at the department stand ready to assist - today. We will ensure these discussions are conducted in accordance with those proceeding productively with councils in Merseyside, Lancashire and South Yorkshire.”

And the Conservative leader of Bolton Council has since said he has spoken to the minister about getting an individual deal for his local authority.

Councillor David Greenhalgh said: "It is clear the amount on the table, which is what has been accepted in Liverpool, Lancashire and now South Yorkshire, and I am not prepared for Bolton businesses to miss out on this extra financial help.

"This is not the time for posturing and politics. This is about getting the best deal available for Bolton business and those who work in the sectors worst affected."

There had been confusion over what extra cash would be handed out to help businesses and employees impacted by being placed into the highest level of coronavirus restrictions from Friday to deal with the area’s spiralling infection rate.

Mr Burnham had suggested Downing Street was unwilling to go up by another £5million to the £65million Greater Manchester’s politicians were calling for after protracted talks over the past week.

But Mr Jenrick said talks broke down because the metro mayor had insisted on preferential treatment for his region and was unwilling to compromise.

Number 10 has insisted its £60million offer was still “on the table”, and at Prime Minister’s Questions Mr Johnson claimed it would definitely be made available. 

It came after Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer asked him to sort out a payment to Greater Manchester as thousands of people will either be out of work or face significant pay cuts when Tier 3 measures are enforced. 

“Stop bargaining with people's lives, stop dividing communities and provide the support that's needed in Manchester,” he added.

The PM responded: "I'm very proud that this government has already given Greater Manchester £1.1billion in support for business, £200million in extra un-ringfenced funding, £50million to tackle infections in care homes, £20million for test and trace, another £22million for local response that we announced yesterday.

"Yesterday the Mayor of Greater Manchester was offered a further £60million which he turned down with no encouragement, I may say support from the Right Honourable Gentleman.

“So I can tell the House today that that cash will be distributed to the boroughs of Greater Manchester.”

But Sir Keir Starmer urged Mr Johnson to end his "corrosive" approach and instead support a Labour motion due for debate this afternoon which would create a national criteria to resolve such matters.

"This is a Prime Minister who can pay £7,000 a day for consultants on track and trace, which isn't working, can find £43million for a garden bridge that was never built but he can't find £5million for the people of Greater Manchester,” he added.

"I really think the Prime Minister has crossed a Rubicon here, not just with the miserly way that he's treated Greater Manchester, but the grubby take it or leave it way these local deals are being done.

"It's corrosive to public trust to pit region against region, mayor against mayor, council against council, asking them to trade away their businesses and jobs."

Mr Johnson said he was "proud" of the Government's support to the entire country, adding: "I think it's the height of absurdity that he stands up and attacks the economic consequences of the measures we're obliged to take across some parts of the country when he wants to turn the lights out with a full national lockdown.

"That was his policy last week, wasn't it? Perhaps he could confirm that's still his policy."

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