Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said on Monday he’s “hopeful” for a deal with Greater Manchester over Tier 3 lockdown measures, ahead of talks with leaders of the region.
“I’m hopeful that we can reach an agreement, but I think we do need to conclude this now,” the minister told Sky News on Monday morning.
Jenrick said the discussions with Manchester have been “productive,” but have “probably gone on too long now.”
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham made a statement on Thursday saying local leaders “have unanimously opposed the government’s plans for Tier 3” lockdown unless affected workers and businesses get “proper compensation.”
Foreign Minister Dominic Raab on Friday said that Burnham was trying to “hold the government over a barrel” over money and politics.
The BBC asked Jenrick about the size of the support package the government would offer Manchester, citing one report saying it could be £100 million ($130 million).
Jenrick declined to comment on the amount but implied it may be substantial.
“Forgive me, but I’m not going to comment on the exact sums of money, but we have offered and reached agreement with Merseyside on a very substantial package of support,” Jenrick told BBC Breakfast.
Greater Manchester has a population of 2.8 million, double the population of Merseyside, a metropolitan county that includes the city of Liverpool.
Liverpool was given a £50 million support package, according to The Telegraph.
Burnham on Sunday wrote a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other party leaders, proposing “an urgent debate and vote this week to establish a cross-Party consensus on what constitutes a fair financial framework for people in areas under Tier 3 restrictions“.
As most places likely “will find themselves in Tier 3 at some point,” the Mayor said, “establishing clear national entitlements of the kind we had during the first lockdown will create a sense of fairness which in turn would help build public support for, and compliance with, any new restrictions.”
Burnham reiterated his doubt about the effectiveness of a tiered lockdown system.
Jenrick said a short, nationwide full lockdown, which Burnham and many others have been calling for, was not a “sensible” way forward and was not being considered at present.
Reuters contributed to this report.