Liverpool Mayor calls for local furlough scheme after tougher lockdown announced

12 October 2020, 17:18

By Fiona Jones

Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson is calling for a local furlough scheme after the Prime Minister announced that the Liverpool City Region is set to enter the "very high" lockdown level from Wednesday under new three tier system.

Boris Johnson has confirmed a new three tier lockdown system in a bid to tackle local outbreaks of coronavirus.

Speaking in the Commons, he told MPs the Government will "simplify and standardise" rules by introducing three tiers - medium, high and very high - in order to implement local lockdowns.

He announced the Liverpool City Region will enter the highest alert level, with pubs, casinos, gyms and betting shops set to close from Wednesday.

Joe Anderson told Eddie Mair the infection rate in the city is a "real concern" and so supported a further lockdown - however "the Government had already made their mind up" on how this lockdown was going to look, despite Liverpudlian politicians pushing back on some of the measures.

"One of the reasons why I believe we've got a situation where the Covid-19 infection rate is rising is because we haven't got a great track and trace and testing system in place, so to be fair to them they agreed with that," Mr Anderson, telling LBC that extra personnel are being brought on to ensure test and trace measures are being implemented locally.

He was "annoyed" that the Prime Minister said the Government and Liverpool had "reached an agreement" over the furlough scheme, the Liverpool Mayor said.

"We are totally opposed to here in Liverpool to the furlough scheme, we want a higher level of furlough," he said, "we want a level that's full compensation for those businesses and full compensation for the low-paid staff that work in them.

"The fact of the matter is that they haven't caused this crisis, they are being forced to close by the Government and that's the same principle that they applied in the national furlough scheme when there was a national lockdown.

"It's common sense and it's consistent that if you're going to have a local lockdown, you should have a local lockdown furlough scheme."

Mr Anderson said the measurements were "absolutely" imposed from Whitehall: "It was a conversation where we were told that these measures were going to be introduced, there was no negotiation. When the Prime Minister said in the Commons we reached an agreement with the Liverpool City Region leaders, that was not true."

Instead, he said, the leaders argued "consistently and clearly" that the people who are "losing their jobs and going on Universal Credit" should instead be accessing a furlough scheme.

It is understood that those pubs with a food license will be allowed to remain open, with the Mayor having pushed "really hard" for food outlets to stay open until 10pm.