We won’t surrender the North to hardship, mayor vows
Andy Burnham: “This package is insufficient to protect our communities”
People will not be surrendered to hardship, Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has said, as the government prepares to bring in new restrictions in England to slow the spread of Covid.
Labour mayor Mr Burnham said the chancellor’s pledge to pay two-thirds of workers’ wages if restrictions force UK firms to close was “insufficient”.
The government is planning to bring in a three-tier local lockdown system.
It could mean tougher rules in parts of northern England and the Midlands.
Liverpool, where there are currently 600 cases per 100,000 people, is expected to be placed under the most severe set of restrictions, with all the city’s pubs forced to close.
On Saturday, 15,166 people in the UK were reported to have tested positive for coronavirus – an increase of 1,302 on Friday’s figure – according to the government’s dashboard.
There were a further 81 deaths – a decrease of 6 on Friday.
In a joint press conference with other mayors from northern England, Mr Burnham said negotiations about the lockdown in the North of England were ongoing but he was told by a “senior figure in Number 10” that the proposed financial help was “non-negotiable”.
“I’m angry actually about being told the effect on people’s lives is non-negotiable,” he said.
Referring to the chancellor’s previous furlough scheme, Steve Rotheram, the Labour mayor of Liverpool City Region, said: “If 80% was right in March, it’s right now. You can’t do lockdown for the North on the cheap.”
He said if the new restrictions were as severe as during the national lockdown in March, a similar sort of package was needed.
Mr Burnham said he wanted the minimum package to be 80% of workers’ wages, in line with the initial national furlough scheme.
Mr Burnham and Mr Rotheram, together with mayors from Sheffield and North of Tyne, have written to all MPs in northern England asking them to call for a separate vote in Parliament on the chancellor’s latest package – and to reject it.