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Source: Labour List UK

Labour mayor Andy Burnham has declared that “this fight is not over” after the UK government rejected the proposal to give Greater Manchester £15m a month to prevent poverty while the area is in Tier 3.

Days of negotiations between the government and Greater Manchester leaders have come to an end with no agreement being reached. It is understood that ministers were offering a £60m package and would not stretch to £65m.

Burnham and the other local leaders said they had presented a detailed, costed package of measures that would have amounted to government funding of £15m a month for the area soon to enter Tier 3 Covid restrictions.

But the government did not take up this offer, and instead MPs in Greater Manchester have been told the region will receive £22m funding as it moves up a tier on Friday night. Burnham described this as “brutal”.

Delivering a statement to press, in which he said Greater Manchester was prepared to accept £65m, the mayor said: “It cannot be right to close people’s place of work, shut somebody’s business, without giving them proper support.”

Of the government, Burnham told journalists: “At two o’clock today, they walked away from negotiations. At no point today were we offered enough to protect the poorest people in our communities.

“Even now I am still willing to do a deal, but it cannot be on the terms that the government offered today – because on those terms I could not meet the commitments I made to people on the lowest incomes, self-employed, freelancers in this city who need our support.”

He argued that government should “carry with us” those people living under coronavirus restrictions rather than “crush their spirit”, and reiterated his call for parliament to intervene in favour of a “fair financial framework”.

Warding off the argument that trying to secure more support could lower compliance with Covid rules, he concluded: “Please, everybody, observe the law at all times and follow the public health advice. Above all else, please look out for each other, as I know you will.”

Burnham was speaking before finding out during the press conference that the government was now only extending to the region £8 per head in funding – £38m less than what was being offered in the talks.

The local leaders revealed this afternoon that they had still not received a funding offer from the government in writing, and had “no idea” which conditions would be attached to the initial £60m funding proposal.

The mayor commented: “They are just coming up with a figure that works for them, rather than the real cost of supporting people through a Tier 3 lockdown. Basically, I think this fight is not over. This fight now goes to parliament.”

Taking questions from press, he said: “It’s a small amount of money to the government, maybe, but it’s not a small amount of money to people here, to the public authorities here… We’re struggling to run the trams, we’re struggling to support people off the streets.”

He added: “This pandemic has hit the North of England harder than it has other places because of the entrenched poverty that there is in the North of England. Because Westminster has neglected the North of England for so many years.”

When talks broke down this afternoon, Keir Starmer said: “The collapse of these talks is a sign of government failure. The Conservatives have been treating local communities, particularly in the Midlands, North West and North East, and their leaders with contempt.

“Labour recognises the need for stricter public health restrictions. However, that must be accompanied by extra financial support. Labour will continue to support Andy Burnham in the fight for people’s jobs, lives and livelihoods.”

MIL OSI United Kingdom