PM confirms £60 million for Greater Manchester boroughs ahead of Tier 3 lockdown

21 October 2020, 14:23 | Updated: 21 October 2020, 15:10

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham turned down a £60 million offer saying it wasn't enough to support those in the region
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham turned down a £60 million offer saying it wasn't enough to support those in the region. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Boris Johnson has confirmed the Greater Manchester area will be given £60million to help soften the blow from Tier 3 restrictions.

The PM has been embroiled in a bitter row with the region's leaders over how much cash they would get as they were pushed into the highest category of restrictions.

Greater Manchester was forced to accept Tier 3 restrictions on Wednesday after local leaders failed to reach an agreement with the Government over funding for the region.

There was initially confusion over how much would be given, after Manchester Andy Burnham refused accept the £60 million offer from the Government, saying the region needed a minimum of £65 million to avoid a "winter of hardship".

But when the deadline for a deal came and went yesterday afternoon, the Government announced that the region would only be given £22 million in funding to help them get through the stricter restrictions - which roughly worked out as £8 per each person.

But speaking in the House of Commons this afternoon, Mr Johnson said the £60 million amount which was initially offered to Mr Burnham will now be distributed to the boroughs of Greater Manchester."

He said: "Yesterday the Mayor of Greater Manchester was offered a further £60 million which he turned down with no encouragement, I may say support from (Sir Keir Starmer). So I can tell the House today that that cash will be distributed to the boroughs of Greater Manchester."

South Yorkshire will be the latest region placed into Tier 3 coronavirus restrictions as Boris Johnson came under renewed pressure to increase financial help for areas under the toughest curbs.

The region will receive a £41 million package of funding, but Sheffield City Council's leader Julie Dore pleaded with ministers to "do the right thing" and offer extra support to all Tier 3 areas.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called for a clear framework setting out the support on offer to regions in Tier 2 and Tier 3 of the coronavirus measures rather than "grubby, take-it-or-leave it" deals.

The restrictions in South Yorkshire, which will cover around 1.4 million people in Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield, will come into force on Saturday morning.

Sheffield's leader Ms Dore said: "We will continue to push Government to provide enough support for people and businesses as they are now placing us in these measures which will have such serious consequences for the people most impacted.

"It is not too late to do the right thing to support people in Sheffield, South Yorkshire and all the people currently going into Tier 3 across the country and I would plead with Government to increase the levels of support they are providing for Tier 3."

Sheffield Heeley MP and shadow cabinet minister Louise Haigh claimed "Tory ministers are treating the North with contempt".

Sheffield City Region's Labour mayor Dan Jarvis said: "The number of people with Covid in our hospitals has doubled over the last 10 days, with no signs this will relent over the coming weeks.

"Inaction was not an option."

Officials said that in South Yorkshire, case rates range from 285 people per 100,000 in Doncaster up to 402 people per 100,000 in Sheffield.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "A failure to act now would only lead to tougher and longer lasting restrictions later.

"I understand the sacrifice people in South Yorkshire have already made and the enormous impact further measures will have on people's lives.

"That is why we are also providing support to businesses and contact tracing activity across South Yorkshire."

The financial package agreed by Sheffield City Region with the Government includes £30 million to support the region's businesses and £11 million for councils for measures such as test and trace.

The announcement means means 7.3 million people, or 13% of England's population, will now be living under Tier 3 restrictions which include a ban on households mixing and the closure of pubs and bars which do not serve meals.