Greater Manchester is to get a £60m support package after all, Boris Johnson confirmed today.
Speaking in the House of Commons earlier, the Prime Minister said that the government will be giving the extra funding to the region as it enters the Tier 3 level of coronavirus restrictions on Friday.
Talks had yesterday broken down between the government and local leaders including Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham.
Burnham said local leaders had asked for £15million a month to provide support for people until the end of March, a total of £90m.
That figure had been reduced to £75m and £65m, but Burnham refused to go lower and accept the government’s offer of £60m.
In the end the talks seemingly broke down over the relatively paltry sum of £5m, with Labour leader Keir Starmer today criticising the “grubby” way the negotiations had been conducted and calling on Johnson to “stop bargaining with people’s lives”.
But Johnson said he was “very proud that this government has already given Greater Manchester £1.1bn in support for business, £200m in extra un-ringfenced funding, £50m to tackle infections in care homes, £20m for test and trace, another £22m for local response that we announced yesterday”.
Government minister Robert Jenrick, who had been leading the government’s negotiations in Manchester, has since written to Greater Manchester’s council leaders, confirming the availability of the £60m for the people and businesses of Manchester, and clarifying that it was on top of the £22m committed yesterday for “vulnerable people, compliance and enforcement”.
He invited council leaders to “come forward and agree the details of these arrangements with the government”.
Meanwhile, Labour has this afternoon lost a House of Commons vote that demanded “a fair deal” for communities facing Tier 3 restrictions, like Greater Manchester.
Labour had been calling on the government to publish “clear and fair national criteria for financial support” in Tier 3 areas and for local support schemes to offer at least 80% of incomes – like the furlough scheme – rather than the proposed 67%.
But the government defeated the Labour motion by a majority of 79 votes, 340 votes to 261.