Boris Johnson will make a statement about South Yorkshire today, amid speculation the region could get England’s toughest coronavirus restrictions.
Speaking to Sky News’ Kay Burley, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick did not rule out the area moving to Tier 3 and revealed ministers and local leaders may be “on the cusp of an agreement”.
He said: “It’s not right for me to pre-empt a full statement that the prime minister and [Sheffield city region mayor] Dan Jarvis will make later today.
“But we have had very successful conversations with him and with the leaders in South Yorkshire.
“Again there’s a serious situation there and rightly they wanted to take action.
“We’ve discussed that over the course of yesterday and early this morning and an announcement will be made shortly.”
Mr Jenrick also denied relationships with some mayors were breaking down, after talks collapsed yesterday on financial support for Greater Manchester.
He said he held “very productive” talks with Mr Jarvis this week and added: “Those discussions are coming to a conclusion this morning, I hope.”
But Lisa Nandy, Labour’s shadow foreign secretary and MP for Wigan, said the situation turned into “chaos” in Greater Manchester when ministers gave local leaders “minutes to decide” whether to accept their final offer.
The row focused on how much support the government was willing to give the region to pay workers and firms hit by the move to Tier 3.
Mr Jenrick confirmed he was offering £60m and that it is “more than just on the table, it’s there, it’s got Manchester’s name on it”.
But that fell below what Mr Burnham said he needed to effectively subsidise the furlough scheme to top it up to 80% and was still less than what he claimed would be the lowest acceptable figure – £65m.
Ms Nandy said that extra £5m was well-needed because “many of our businesses are on their knees and our minimum wage workers have racked up significant amounts of debt”.
She added it “genuinely feels like this government is now not only failing to help us, but is actively working against us to inflict harm on its own citizens”.
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