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Andy Burnham wanted 'preferential treatment' for Greater Manchester in Tier 3 talks, government claims

Andy Wells
·Freelance Writer
·2-min read

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.”

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 11, 2020: Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, gives an interview before appearing on The Andrew Marr Show - PHOTOGRAPH BY David Nash / Barcroft Studios / Future Publishing (Photo credit should read David Nash/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Communities secretary Robert Jenrick blamed Andy Burnham for the breakdown of talks with the government. (Getty)

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.”

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham after speaking to the media outside Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, following last-ditch talks with the Prime Minister aimed at securing additional financial support for his consent on new coronavirus restrictions. Greater Manchester will be placed under stricter coronavirus controls after the talks concluded without an agreement.
Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham is accused of wanting 'preferential treatment' for his region. (PA)

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.

Andy Burnham, mayor of Manchester, holds a news conference, amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Manchester, Britain, October 20, 2020. REUTERS/Phil Noble
Andy Burnham said Tier 3 restrictions for Greater Manchester were 'brutal'. (Reuters)

“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.

Watch: What is long COVID?

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