I am disappointment that no agreement was reached between the Government and the Mayor of Greater Manchester for a financial package for the region as it enters Tier 3. The failure of both sides to come to a sensible agreement, and in particular the Mayor’s decision to walk away from the negotiating table having been offered 92% of what he was asking for, was deeply frustrating.
Merseyside, Lancashire, and South Yorkshire have all agreed financial support packages on the same per capita basis, following constructive talks with the Government. I am reassured that, despite the Mayor of Greater Manchester turning down the Government’s offer of £60 million on that same basis, the Government has confirmed that this funding will be made available to the boroughs of Greater Manchester.
This is on top of £1.1 billion in relief and grants for businesses and £223 million in COVID-related support funding since March, and another £22 million for local response announced recently.
Throughout this process, I have made the case for a borough-by-borough approach, reflecting the fact that Stockport has consistently had the lowest infection rate in Greater Manchester. Following the breakdown in negotiations between the Government and the Mayor of Greater Manchester, I have called on Stockport Council to engage directly with the Government to deliver a funding package that supports businesses and livelihoods in Cheadle as we enter Tier 3.
While the Mayor of Greater Manchester argued for more funding per capita than Merseyside, Lancashire, and South Yorkshire, the Labour Party put forward a motion making an apparently contradictory call for ‘national criteria for financial support for jobs and businesses in areas facing additional restrictions.’ I did not support this wording, and I do not support Labour’s call for a nationwide lockdown, which would impose unnecessary restrictions on areas with a low case rate.
I supported the wording of the motion as amended, which recognised the need for a regional and local approach, which reflects the fact that the virus is spreading differently across the country, and which voiced approval for the Government trying to work with local representatives to improve enforcement and Test and Trace.
As Tier 3 measures are implemented in Greater Manchester, I will continue to work with the Government and with Stockport Council to help deliver the best possible support package for Cheadle residents; and I will also work to ensure that our borough does not remain in Tier 3 for any longer than necessary.