Boris Johnson accused of 'contempt' for the north as he finally extends furlough

Boris Johnson is accused of “contempt” for the north after he finally extended the furlough scheme – but only in a national lockdown.

The Prime Minister spent weeks rebuffing calls to lift the 67% wage support to 80% for workers whose pubs are shut down.

That meant thousands of workers across Tier 3 areas in northern England were expected to cope with less than the original furlough.

But last night Mr Johnson revealed 80% furlough will be extended after all, for the duration of a month-long national lockdown.

And it’s understood the furlough scheme will be open to new entrants for the first time since July.

That means people who have recently entered a new job can be eligible for the scheme from this week.

Pubs and bars were to shut in northern England – now they’ll close across the nation

Regional mayors today said the PM had shown he thinks voters in the North are worth less than those in the South.

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson told BBC Breakfast he, as well as members of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), had called for a lockdown in September as the city’s infection rates started to rise.

Mr Anderson, whose brother Bill died after contracting coronavirus last month, said: “It’s clear to me that the Government made the choice to put people’s health and the health concerns of the nation second and listen to Tory right-wing MPs and people arguing about the economy.

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People gathering at a pub
The new measures were announced amid dire warnings that thousands could die every day if action is not taken

“I think as a result of that it’s very, very clear that thousands of people have died.”

Mr Anderson added: “It’s interesting as well, isn’t it, that of course yesterday evening they announced that the furlough scheme would return at 80%, something that Andy Burnham, Steve Rotheram, leaders of the North, myself included, have been calling for.

“That’s the point about contempt.

“That they dismissed the North’s call for the furlough scheme to be introduced in Tier 3 but now have all of a sudden found the 80% furlough scheme for a Tier 4 or national lockdown.”

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham slammed the government’s approach

At an online press conference on Sunday, Liverpool City Region mayor Steve Rotheram said: “This morning millions of people woke up knowing the Prime Minister of this country believes the North is worth less than the South.”

He said voters across “red wall” areas would not be “fooled” into electing the Conservatives again.

The Labour politician said: “Apparently all votes count equally, but all voters demonstrably don’t to this Government and the support you get from the Chancellor of the Exchequer depends on a horizontal line drawn across the country and on which side of it you sit.”

He told the press conference that, during discussions about Liverpool City Region becoming the first area of the country to enter Tier 3 restrictions, the Government was “unequivocal” that it would not consider changes to the furlough scheme.

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He added: “I can assure the Government that the people of the North won’t easily forget that they were judged to be worth less than their southern counterparts.”

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said people in the region had “just completed three months of morale-sapping restrictions and now they are waking up to the prospect of a month of even tougher restrictions”.

He added: “I honestly don’t believe that that is understood in Westminster, that already people have been ground down by the restrictions they have been living under and they need to understand that before we go any further forward.”

He called for work to be done on a “substantial localisation” of the test and trace system, for self-employed people to be financially supported and for schools to close for two weeks for a “true circuit break”.

He said: “We need to see an end to the late-night briefings of newspapers which have major consequences for people’s lives, causing all kinds of worry and anguish, we need to see an end to the ongoing failure of test and trace, we need to see an end to the differential treatment of people on low wages, people in the North vs people in the South, we need to see an end to the exclusion of some people who desperately now need some public support.

“If we do those things we can use November as a proper reset of this country’s response to this pandemic”.


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