Following “constructive” talks between ministers and Manchester mayor Andy Burnham yesterday (18 October), Prime Minister Boris Johnson is believed to be willing to offer tens of millions of pounds in financial support should Burnham accept tougher restrictions placed on Manchester today.
As was suggested in the Prime Minister’s press conference on Friday (16 October), if local leaders continued to refuse the restrictions, they could risk having them imposed regardless.
While Burnham’s key demand – the return of 80% furlough – has been dismissed by government sources as “nonsense”, the Manchester Mayor is said to be holding talks today with Sir Edward Lister, Mr Johnson’s chief of staff, and Robert Jenrick, the Communities Secretary, to discuss a financial support package.
Burnham has written directly to Johnson and other opposition leaders yesterday to call for a “cross-party consensus” on the distribution of restrictions, arguing that infection rates were increasing nationwide and most areas would be in tier 3 “at some point before a vaccine is found.”
Together with the Mayors of the Liverpool City Region and North of Tyne, the letter sets out what they believe is the minimum level of support that should come with Tier 3 status: including an 80% furlough scheme and 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.
“If more parts of the country are to move into Tier 3 restrictions in the coming weeks, it is vital that local people and businesses know what financial support they can expect and can plan accordingly,” writes Burnham.
“As Leaders of the main political parties in Westminster, I urge you to work together to help resolve this current dispute and establish a fair financial framework for local lockdowns that the whole country will be able to support.”