ANDY Burnham has claimed the Government only care about struggling businesses after London was thrown into Tier 2 lockdown restrictions.
The Greater Manchester Mayor ramped up his attack on Westminster politicians today as Chancellor Rishi Sunak prepares to hand out extra cash for areas in the “high” Covid alert level.
In a withering judgment of the news there would be extra financial help, Mr Burnham told MPs today: “I think there are major questions the Government needs to answer.
“It feels it is dividing and ruling, making one rule for one and one approach for another – and that’s the worst way to manage things in a pandemic.”
He said: “I’m really struggling with this (Mr Sunak’s announcement), not because I begrudge people working in restaurants and pubs in London, of course I don’t, but why now?
“Why has it taken London to go into Tier 2 for Tier 2 support to become a national issue.
“That’s the question that everyone has to answer.
He blasted ministers for prioritising the capital over Northern cities who have had to suffer through more than three months of restrictions, demanding to know “why do we see London’s issues much more than we see Liverpool’s issues or Manchester’s issues?”
He continued: “I was open mouthed when I read the headlines last night that there was going to be a support package, it was just a case of hello, we’ve been under these rules for three months.”
Mr Burnham claimed “down there (in Westminster), it’s politics before people” and called for a “reckoning” or else the clashes between local and national Government would rocket into a “dark and dangerous place”.
He continued to bash the Westminster Government for having a “powerful centre which is not treating places equally” after walking away from a £60million deal from Boris Johnson to help businesses in Manchester cope with Tier 3 restrictions.
Mr Johnson vowed yesterday that the city would be given that money, despite the Mayor blowing up funding talks by refusing to accept less than £65million.
Mr Sunak is expected to lay out measures for struggling businesses – especially pubs and restaurants – in Tier 2 restrictions.
There is currently a major gulf in financial support between Tier 2 and Tier 3 areas.
Only companies in Tier 3 that are forced to close have access to the Job Support Scheme that sees the Government pay two thirds of their workers’ wages.
But the state only pays 22 per cent of the wages of staff under the scheme in all other areas of the country – and they must be working at least a third of their normal hours.
Hospitality venues are having to grapple with a double hit of the national 10pm curfew and a ban on household mixing indoors.
And with more and more areas falling in to the ‘High’ alert level such as London last week, the Chancellor has concluded more financial support is needed.
Mr Sunak is today expected to announce that firms hit by Tier 2 restrictions such as pubs, bars and restaurants will get two thirds of wages paid for by the state.