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Northern England mayors call for bigger financial support ahead of new COVID-19 rules

Northern England mayors call for bigger financial support ahead of new COVID-19 rules

LONDON (Reuters) – Leaders of major cities in northern England on Saturday asked for more generous economic support for workers and businesses facing local lockdown, saying the government’s current proposals would wreak economic hardship on their citizens.



a group of people walking on a sidewalk: FILE PHOTO: Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Manchester


© Reuters/MOLLY DARLINGTON
FILE PHOTO: Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Manchester

British finance minister Rishi Sunak on Friday offered extra help for businesses and people who are forced to stop work during local coronavirus lockdowns.

But Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said that the support package was unacceptable ahead of the expected introduction of new restrictions in large parts of northern England.

He called for an increase to the proposed two-thirds of wages for furloughed workers, while government needed to recognise a broader array of businesses that would be impacted.

To accept the package would be “to surrender our residents to hardship in the run up to Christmas, and our businesses to potential failure or collapse,” Burnham told reporters.

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Burnham said that he and other mayors were writing to lawmakers to call for a vote on the package, with a view to getting it rejected and replacing it with new support measures.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will make a statement to parliament on Monday about potential new lockdown restrictions, after lawmakers have been handed more say over COVID-19 rules.

“The rising incidence in parts of the country mean that it is very likely that certain local areas will face further restrictions,” Edward Lister, a senior aide to the prime minister, said in a letter to lawmakers on Friday.

An Office for National Statistics survey

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Coronavirus live news: England’s northern leaders say they do not support financial package; Portugal reports 1,646 new cases | World news

Coronavirus live news: England’s northern leaders say they do not support financial package; Portugal reports 1,646 new cases | World news

Spain’s Socialist prime minister Pedro Sanchez appealed for unity on Saturday after the far-right Vox party said it would take legal action against a partial lockdown imposed on Madrid to contain one of Europe’s worst coronavirus outbreaks.

Vox, which is echoing the conservative-led Madrid regional authority’s opposition to the new restrictions implemented via a state of emergency, has also called for protests.

The measures affecting 3.8 million people in the Spanish capital and eight satellite towns include a ban on non-essential travel except for work, school or medical reasons.

Around 7,000 police are deployed to ensure compliance.

Vox leader Santiago Abascal said his party, Spain’s third largest, would appeal in the constitutional court against the “illegal” state of emergency.

Opponents say the measures in Madrid are excessive and will crush the economy, Reuters reports.

Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez holds a press conference with his Portuguese counterpart during the 31st Portuguese-Spanish summit this year dedicated to cross-border cooperation and articulation of a joint strategy for economic recovery in Guarda on 10 October, 2020.

Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez holds a press conference with his Portuguese counterpart during the 31st Portuguese-Spanish summit this year dedicated to cross-border cooperation and articulation of a joint strategy for economic recovery in Guarda on 10 October, 2020. Photograph: Patrícia de Melo Moreira/AFP/Getty Images

But Sanchez told a news conference that health should come before politics. “We have to be united. This is an epidemiological battle, not ideological,” he said.

Spaniards are bemused and angry over the political bickering, as their nation suffers the highest Covid-19 caseload in Western Europe and its worst recession since the civil war.

“I feel frustrated, deceived, I feel afraid because I see that we are in the middle of political disputes that lead nowhere,” said Miguel Angel, 63, a Madrid resident.

The Madrid region had 723 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in the two weeks to 8 October, according to the World Health Organization, making it Europe’s second densest cluster after Andorra.

Spain said on Friday it had

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Mayors in northern England call for greater financial support

Mayors in northern England call for greater financial support

Mayors in Northern England have asked MPs across the region to force the government to improve the financial support offered to people and businesses hit by local lockdown measures and prevent tens of thousands of job losses.

With the government set to announce on Monday that many hospitality businesses in Merseyside, and possibly elsewhere, must shut on Wednesday, the four Labour metro mayors in the region have written to the 158 MPs.

Paying people just 66 per cent of their salary to stay at home and offering small grants to businesses is not enough, the mayors said.

“To accept this package would be to surrender our residents to hardship in the run-up to Christmas and our businesses to collapse,” Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester, said.

He said hospitality workers were being treated as “second-class citizens”. 

The mayors want MPs to press for a separate vote on the support package, outlined by chancellor Rishi Sunak on Friday.

As well as furlough, it includes cash grants to companies forced to close of up to £3,000 per month payable every two weeks.

They want at least 80 per cent of wages paid — as in the original furlough scheme — and the scheme extended to companies in the supply chain. They also want it to cover self-employed trades such as taxi drivers and security staff. 

Steve Rotheram, mayor of Liverpool City Region, said: “You cannot do Covid lockdown in Liverpool City Region and the north on the cheap.”

Since cases are far higher in northern England than southern England, the measures will inflict far more economic damage in places already disadvantaged.

Scotland took measures across its central belt including Glasgow and Edinburgh this week.

The government is negotiating with the mayors about a new three tier system of restrictions to

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Northern England Mayors Call for Bigger Financial Support Ahead of New COVID-19 Rules | World News

Northern England Mayors Call for Bigger Financial Support Ahead of New COVID-19 Rules | World News

LONDON (Reuters) – Leaders of major cities in northern England on Saturday asked for more generous economic support for workers and businesses facing local lockdown, saying the government’s current proposals would wreak economic hardship on their citizens.

British finance minister Rishi Sunak on Friday offered extra help for businesses and people who are forced to stop work during local coronavirus lockdowns.

But Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said that the support package was unacceptable ahead of the expected introduction of new restrictions in large parts of northern England.

He called for an increase to the proposed two-thirds of wages for furloughed workers, while government needed to recognise a broader array of businesses that would be impacted.

To accept the package would be “to surrender our residents to hardship in the run up to Christmas, and our businesses to potential failure or collapse,” Burnham told reporters.

Burnham said that he and other mayors were writing to lawmakers to call for a vote on the package, with a view to getting it rejected and replacing it with new support measures.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will make a statement to parliament on Monday about potential new lockdown restrictions, after lawmakers have been handed more say over COVID-19 rules.

“The rising incidence in parts of the country mean that it is very likely that certain local areas will face further restrictions,” Edward Lister, a senior aide to the prime minister, said in a letter to lawmakers on Friday.

An Office for National Statistics survey on Friday showed that 1% and 0.9% of people in the North East and North West respectively are estimated to have had COVID-19 in the week to Sept 28, compared to an average of 0.4% for England.

Parts of northern England have already been under extra restrictions since last

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