James O'Brien 10am - 1pm
Northern Tory MPs pile pressure on Rishi Sunak for more Covid-19 support
14 January 2021, 22:35
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is facing calls from Tory MPs to continue financial support for struggling businesses and families as the country faces months of uncertainty.
The Northern Research Group (NRG) - including many MPs who took seats in Labour's "red wall" in the 2019 election - said lockdown controls had hit disadvantaged areas the hardest.
In a submission to Mr Sunak ahead of his Budget in March, the group said families and businesses in the North of England were facing a series of financial "cliff edges" as existing support schemes come to an end unless they are extended
NRG chairman Jake Berry - a former Northern Powerhouse minister - said by the time of the Budget, much of the region will have endured some form of extended restrictions for almost a year.
"Lockdowns - although necessary while we wait for the vaccine to be rolled out - only entrench and compound disadvantage already felt by those communities this Government has promised to level up," he said.
"Whilst we welcome the unprecedented support provided by this Government for those impacted by this virus, to relinquish support now would cause long-term damage to large parts of the North and weaken our recovery.
"Now is the time for the Treasury to provide stability - not uncertainty - to people across the country, by confirming it will stick to task and continue supporting families and businesses as we recover from this pandemic by extending a number of the support measures available."
The group is also urging Mr Sunak to "springboard" the region's recovery by prioritising small regional infrastructure projects, moving more Government departments out of London, and fully financing town deals and high street projects.