Salford Mayor Paul Dennett has attacked Government support for Greater Manchester after talks between the region’s leadership and Boris Johnson’s administration collapsed.
Mayor Dennett spoke alongside Andy Burnham in Manchester after the Combined Authorities failed to reach an agreement with the Government over financial support for the North-West in the case of a tier three restrictions being implemented.
The Prime Minister subsequently confirmed that Greater Manchester, including Salford, would move into Tier 3 later this week.
As a result some bars and pubs will have to close unless they serve ‘substantial meals’. Betting shops, casinos, bingo halls, adult gaming centres, and soft play areas will all close too.
Mayor Dennett and Mayor Burnham have both asked for more financial support to help owners and employees of businesses that will have to close.
The Salford Mayor criticised the Government over their lack of willingness to match the Combined Authorities’ request for a minimum of £65m to support the people of Greater Manchester over winter.
It has now been confirmed that Greater Manchester will receive just £22m. However, it is unknown whether the 10 individual councils will receive additional money to support people.
Apologies. This seems to have been communicated as ‘only £22m’ in the first instance. Certainly that’s how it had been understood. I give up. Let’s wait and see.
— Jennifer Williams (@JenWilliamsMEN) October 20, 2020
Mayor Dennett continued: “Government are entering into multi-million pound contracts at a national level, but they can’t find an extra £15m for the people of Greater Manchester.
“This is the situation we find ourselves in today. We have gone into these negotiations in good faith, we have taken an evidence-based approach, we have done our homework.
“We have fought hard for the people of Greater Manchester and it’s really disappointing that the Government can’t back the negotiations that Greater Manchester has put forward.
“This has always been about people; this has never been about politics for us. It is really sad that the Government today haven’t accepted our reasoned, logical and evidence-based approach.
“We will continue to fight; the door continues to be open in terms of the negotiations with the government.”
The two Mayors have been calling for more evidence that shows a direct connection between the hospitality industry remaining open and increased Covid cases.
Mayor Dennett said: “We have been doing our homework and taking an evidence-based approach to these negotiations.
“We know in Greater Manchester that 408,000 people have accessed the furlough arrangements. We also know that unemployment has doubled between March and May. Going into these negotiations, we already know that Greater Manchester is in a precarious situation.
“We are absolutely behind the work the Combined Authority has done to do the evidence-based homework to properly understand what we need to support jobs and businesses here in Greater Manchester.
“We put all this to Government over the last few days and what has not come back is a reasoned, evidence-based approach on behalf of Government.”
PM says Greater Manchester will receive £22m, as I’ve reported. That’s much less than the £60m which was on the table. Remains to be seen if more money goes to individual councils.
— Lewis Goodall (@lewis_goodall) October 20, 2020
What do the restrictions mean?
The Tier three restrictions mean that most pubs will close, unless they sell “substantial meals”.
The restrictions also mean that casinos as well as soft play areas will close.
Household mixing is banned indoors and outdoors, and travel in to or outside of the region is advised against.
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham reiterated that accepting restrictions without proper financial support for the people of Greater Manchester would cause a winter of “real hardship”.
He said: “To accept any further restrictions under these circumstances would be certain to increase levels of poverty, homelessness and hardship within our City Regent.
“Let’s be clear who is most affected by a tier three lockdown – it is people working in pubs, in bookies, driving taxis – people too often forgotten by those in power.
“But this City Region has never walked on by and it never will. At the start of these negotiations together with the leaders of all of our councils, we made a commitment to all of those people that we would look out for them and stand up for what is right.
Burnham said that they would only accept a Tier three lockdown if people were provided with 80% of their wages so “they can make ends meet.”
The requests from the Combined Authorities would cost 90 million pounds until the end of April 2021. However, Andy Burnham stated that they would be willing to reduce that to 65 million as a bare minimum to prevent a winter of hardship.
He continued: “It cannot be right to close people’s place of work, to shut somebody’s business without giving them proper support so they can look after themselves and their families through a very challenging winter that lies ahead of us.
“We have been clear throughout that we could only accept further restrictions with further financial support.”