TOWNS and city centres in Tier 3 areas will be severely damaged by the loss of Christmas trade and the Government’s failure to provide a fair financial support package, the Mayor of Greater Manchester has warned.

The Mayor has written to MPs in Greater Manchester calling on them to demand much better support for business in Tier 3 areas when the House of Commons debates these issues on Tuesday.

In the letter, Andy Burnham says that businesses that support hospitality - such as cleaning, catering, security and taxis - will be hit hard by the closure of the sector in the run-up to Christmas, putting thousands of jobs at risk in some of the poorest parts of the country.

The Government has said that discretionary business grant funding won’t be increased or extended even after the new tier system is introduced after national lockdown on 2nd December. This grant funding was given to all local authorities at the start of national lockdown to support business hit hard by restrictions but not getting grant funding from elsewhere. It means that places in Tier 3 will get no more such funding than other areas going into Tier 1 and Tier 2.

The Mayor believes that the formula used to calculate the funding - £20 per head of population - is unfair to cities and places with a larger hospitality sector and a higher number of business in the supply-chain. Andy Burnham is calling for areas in the highest level of restrictions to receive a monthly business support grant based on a formula linked to the number of affected business in any area rather than simply the number of residents.

He has also asked Greater Manchester MPs to join forces in a cross-party call for a meaningful review of the city-region’s Tier 3 status in two weeks, given that it is now recording the fastest decline in cases of any area in England.

The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “The Government is continuing a policy of imposing harsh regional lockdowns without providing sufficient support to offset the damage to jobs and businesses.
“This is a deliberate act of levelling down from a Government which only a year ago was elected on a promise to do precisely the opposite.

“It simply cannot be right or fair that Tier 1 Cornwall and the Isle of Wight are receiving the same level of business support as cities such as Manchester, Leeds and Hull. MPs representing Tier 3 areas on all sides of the House need to come together and demand a much fairer support package from the Government.

“For businesses that support hospitality, December is traditionally the most important month of the year. To take that away without compensation will be devastating for them and many will not survive into the New Year.”

The full text of the Mayor's letter follows:


TO: ALL GREATER MANCHESTER MPs
Dear Colleague,

Following the announcement yesterday that Greater Manchester will move into the revised Tier 3 next week, I wanted to write to you to set out our position and seek your help in raising issues of concern to us in next week’s debate.

I am sure that you don’t need me to remind you that, by the time the change comes into effect, Greater Manchester will have spent four months under continuous restrictions. I am sure we all share concerns about the damage this is doing to people’s lives and our economy.

However, whilst the news was disappointing, it was perhaps not surprising. Our infection rate remains above the England average and the pressure on hospitals across the GM is still considerable. But this is not the whole story. More positively, cases are now falling faster in Greater Manchester than in any other region in England and there are signs of pressure easing on our hospitals.

Data published on Wednesday showed that our infection rate is now the lowest it has been since the end of September, falling by 45% over the last two weeks and comparing favourably to a 39% fall across the North West and a 13% fall across England. In London, over the same period, the infection rate increased by 17%. Importantly, we are also seeing a continued fall in the infection rate for the over 65s, with rates decreasing in all districts across Greater Manchester. If this current trend in decline continues it is pointing towards Tier 2 for all, or parts of Greater Manchester.

Given this changing context, I hope we might be able to work together on three critical issues for the benefit of our residents and businesses.

1. MEANINGFUL DECEMBER REVIEW
If the current trends continue over the next two weeks, there is a strong chance that
Greater Manchester will be in a similar position as many areas which have been placed in Tier 2. The Government has indicated that it is unlikely to make any major changes at the first review in a fortnight’s time. But I would welcome your support in challenging that and asking for a meaningful review of Greater Manchester’s position, all or in part, including discussions with local leaders.

2. REVISED TIER 3
We have concerns about the structure of the new Tier 3. It hits the hospitality sector hard - and by extension our city and town centres - but is permissive towards non-essential retail. We would call for a more balanced approach. Much of the hospitality sector has spent vast amounts of money putting in COVID-secure measures and will be safer than some in the retail sector where social distancing and hygiene is harder to maintain. We have put forward options to Government to allow for a more nuanced and flexible strategy which would allow parts of our economy to reopen and we are waiting to hear back from Ministers.

3. FINANCIAL SUPPORT
When the country went into national lockdown, the Government announced that all local authority areas in the country would receive the £20 per head of population as part of the Additional Restrictions Grant to support businesses impacted by closures and that this would have to last until the end of the financial year. In practice, this means that places going into Tier 3 next week will receive no more discretionary funding than places going into Tier 1 or 2 even though businesses in the hospitality supply chain in those areas - such as catering, cleaning, security and the taxi trade - will be severely impacted. We would ask you to raise in Parliament the need for a fair financial settlement for Tier 3 areas that protect jobs and businesses in your constituencies.

I hope very much that we will able to form a united, cross-party front on these three important issues for Greater Manchester.

If you would like to discuss this matter with me - or need any further information on any of these matters - please do not hesitate to contact me.

Thank you for all you have been doing to help Greater Manchester through these difficult times and in advance for any help you are able to provide in next week’s crucial debate.

Yours faithfully
Andy Burnham
Mayor of Greater Manchester


Note: The discretionary business support grant is the Additional Support Grant. Further details are available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-youre-eligible-for-the-coronavirus-additional-restrictions-grant


Article Published: 28/11/2020 23:19 PM