Watch: Andy Burnham wanted a ‘better deal’ than other regions, says government minister
Andy Burnham wanted “preferential treatment” for Greater Manchester if it were to accept tough Tier 3 coronavirus restrictions, the government has claimed.
Communities secretary Robert Jenrick placed the blame for the breakdown of the talks on Burnham, insisting the Labour mayor kept pushing for more money.
Jenrick told Radio 4’s Today programme: “In a meeting with the prime minister, the prime minister offered £55m, Andy Burnham asked for £65m.
“The prime minister said: ‘Look, let’s just compromise, and get this done for the sake of people in Greater Manchester.’
“Andy Burnham wasn’t willing to, so we had to take action.”
Jenrick said Burnham – who health secretary Matt Hancock reportedly “ranted” about during a crunch meeting – “was never willing to draw this to a conclusion”.
He added: “The public health situation was deteriorating.
“It would have frankly been irresponsible of the government to allow this to continue for many more days without bringing it to a conclusion.”
Jenrick said the £60m of government support rejected by Burnham was still available to the region.
“The money is still there,” he said. “It’s got Greater Manchester’s name on it.
“We have had very productive conversations with the local council leaders in recent days. The council leaders can come to me, my door is open.
“They can come to me today and we can start making the same arrangements as we are now doing intensively with Merseyside, Lancashire and other parts of the country.”
Burnham responded to Conservative MP Chris Clarkson’s request that he should now let local MPs and council leaders attempt to get a settlement.
Clarkson said the government offered to give Manchester “92% of what you asked for, with a settlement of an additional £60m funding, you decided the best option was to walk away having secured absolutely nothing.”
But Burnham tweeted in response: “You haven’t got this quite right Chris.
“We asked for £90m – which is the cost of an 80% furlough and self-employed scheme.
“We were offered £60m – 66% of our ask, the same that pub staff in Heywood & Middleton are deemed to be worth.
“You can vote to change that today. Will you?”
Pubs and bars in Greater Manchester will be closed, unless they are serving substantial meals, for a 28-day period, along with betting shops, casinos, bingo halls, adult gaming centres and soft play areas.
The prime minister said regulations will be laid in Parliament on Thursday and come into force just after midnight.
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