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Andy Burnham calls on Greater Manchester MPs to unite and demand more support for businesses in the region

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Mayor of Greater Manchester/Facebook

Mayor Andy Burnham has written an open letter to Greater Manchester’s MPs, urging them to demand a fair financial support package for business effected by the strictest tier system.  

The letter, dated November 28th, begins with Burnham explaining he is seeking help in ‘raising issues of concern to us in next week’s debate’ in the House of Commons.

He goes on to explain that Greater Manchester being put into the strictest tier in the newly revised tier system – therefore putting Greater Manchester into its fourth month of continuous restrictions – was ‘disappointing, but it was perhaps not surprising’. 

The infection rate in Greater Manchester remains above the average in England, putting significant pressure on hospitals across the region. However, it is falling at a rate faster than anywhere else in the UK, dropping by more than 45% over the last two weeks, compared to 39% across the North West and 13% across the rest of England.

Burnham goes on to explain that rates for over 65s are continuing to fall which points towards Tier 2 for all of Greater Manchester.

Given this, he calls for three critical issues to be raised that will benefit residents and businesses. 

Firstly, a challenge on the December review. Given the figures, there’s a strong chance Greater Manchester will be in a similar position to those areas in Tier 2. However, the government has indicated major changes at the first review in a fortnight will not take place. 

Secondly, he calls for a more balanced approach to the structure of Tier 3. Currently, Burnham explains the system disproportionately hits the hospitality sector, the industry that has spent ‘vast amounts of money’ putting Covid-secure measures in place. He is calling for the government to allow for a more ‘nuanced and flexible strategy’ to allow parts of the economy to reopen.

And finally, he is calling for financial support. He explains that in practice, those areas going into tier 3 will receive no more funding than those in tier 1 or 2.

To finish, Burnham said: “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 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.” 

You can read the letter in full here.

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Teachers, police officers and shop workers might be given priority in next vaccine rollout phase

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Taylor Wilcox / Unsplash

Officials are considering who should be a priority in the next phase of the vaccine rollout.

Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi says they are looking into jobs that come into close contact with the public and considering if they should be given priority access. 

This means the likes of teachers, police officers and shop workers could be in the next phase of the vaccine rollout.

The decision will be made by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), and Matt Hancock has called for a national debate on prioritisation.

Daniel Schludi / Unsplash

Mr Zahawi told Times Radio: “Teachers, police officers, shop workers, those who through no fault of their own, other than the work that they do, may come into contact with the virus at much greater volume [should be] the top of the list.”

Outlining how a decision on priority should be made, Matt Hancock said at the Downing Street press conference on Monday: “The clinical advice is to go through the top groups… and then after that it is essentially about protecting people as well as possible according to a judgment about who should come next.

“That is why we should have a debate about that.

“Ninety-nine per cent of deaths occur in the top nine groups and after that it is about protecting against transmission and getting life back to normal as soon as possible.”

King Church / Unsplash

Currently, the order of priority for phase one is: 

  1. Care home residents and their carers
  2. Those 80 and over, and frontline health and social care workers
  3. Those 75 and over
  4. Those 70 and over, and clinically extremely vulnerable people
  5. Those 65 and over
  6. People between 16-65 with underlying health conditions which put them at risk of more serious illness from COVID-19
  7. Those 60 and over
  8. Those 55 and over
  9. Those 50 and over

A petition calling for teachers, school and childcare staff to be prioritised has now gained 470,000 signatures with some arguing it could help with schools reopening. 

The chairman of the Police Federation John Apter has called for police officers to be given the vaccine as soon as possible. 

Dorset Police have also backed the calls after two officers tested positive for Covid-19 at an anti-lockdown rally in Bournemouth.

One of the officers said: “Police officers shouldn’t be the first in line for the vaccine and we know the risks of our job, but we see vast amounts of people every day.

“If a call comes in, we have to go to it; we can’t say we won’t go to it. And we are putting ourselves, and our families at risk, every single day.”

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Jeremy Clarkson ‘fed up’ with people ‘whingeing’ over quality of the free school meal parcels

“I am fed up to the back teeth of the whingeing this story unleashed”

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RoadsideMum / Twitter & jeremyclarkson1 / Instagram

Jeremy Clarkson says he’s ‘really quite fed up’ with certain people ‘whingeing’ over the quality of free school meals. 

Multi-millionaire Jeremy Clarkson who regularly shares his troubles online – like that time his chef prepared truffles for breakfast, or that time he couldn’t decide which of his Range Rovers to use – has pitched in with his views on the quality of the government’s free school meals for children. 

While Clarkson can agree that there is some ‘shameless profiteering’ going on, he can’t help but point out that he is ‘fed up to the back teeth of the whingeing’ from ‘certain people’.

Writing in his Sunday Times column, the Grand Tour host said: “On the food front, I think [Marcus Rashford’s] fight is noble and well-judged, and I agree that some shameless profiteering is going on.”

The journalist, who is estimated to be worth around £60m, added: “But I am fed up to the back teeth of the whingeing this story unleashed.

“We live in a country where children from less well-off families are entitled to free lunches when they are at home. Yippee.

“But instead of celebrating that fact, and concentrating on making sure the food they get is not half an ounce of mould and a dead dog, I heard a woman on the news the other day demanding that she be given £30 to provide lunch for her child. Thirty quid? Where’s she going to take him? Fortnum & Mason?”

The presenter went on to blast those who would prefer a supermarket voucher than the food hampers, suggesting they would exchange it for ‘fags and scratchcards’. 

jeremyclarkson1 / Instagram

But bashing hungry kids wasn’t enough for Clarkson on this particular Sunday, when he eventually turned his attention to teachers in his column titled ‘Where’s our Dunkirk spirit? Indoors, moaning that the sea’s a bit choppy and the boat smells’.

He wrote: “And don’t get me started on teachers, because, as far as I can tell, instead of working out how they will educate their pupils in these troubled times, every single one of them is to be found on the news every night, with his laptop at the wrong angle and a terrible painting in the background, saying that Boris Johnson should buy every child in the land an iPad and that no teacher should have to work again, ever.”

He concluded: “In the olden days, a British person would have dealt with these trials by going outside to help push the stuck vaccine delivery lorry. But not any more.

“Now, we’re more likely to storm out of the tent in a sulk of shuddering shoulders and tears, saying, ‘I am just going outside and may be some time — and if you don’t like it, you can all eff off. And I want a free laptop’.”

Following the widespread pressure from the public after images of the food hampers emerged across social media last week the government reintroduced school vouchers for eligible pupils. 

A report published in December by the Social Market Foundation estimated that 14% of British children – totalling to 1.7 million children – have suffered such persistent hunger over the course of the coronavirus pandemic they could be classed as enduring ‘very low food security’. 

You can read Clarkson’s arguably rather ‘whingey’ article here and donate to FareShare here

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Aldi to give 30,000 staff a pay rise to say thanks for their hard work during the pandemic

Amazing news!

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David Clark / Geograph

Aldi has confirmed they will be giving 30,000 members of staff a pay rise, with some earning £11.32 an hour.

The biggest pay rise will be seen by workers in London who have been employed by Aldi for at least two years.

The minimum hourly wage outside of the M25 will see a 15p rise too, from £9.40 to £9.55 for all newly-employed staff. 

The pay rise will come into play from February 1st, 2021 and will affect 30,000 members of staff on minimum wage. 

David Smith / Geograph

The new pay exceeds the Living Wage Foundation’s recommendation of £9.50 an hour nationally and £10.85 in London. 

The supermarket pays all staff for their breaks on shift. Plus the ‘vast majority’ of managers will also get a pay rise, but it is yet to be confirmed how much by. 

Giles Hurley, chief executive officer, Aldi UK and Ireland said: “I want to express my sincere thanks to every single Aldi colleague who stepped up when it mattered.

“Their outstanding efforts have ensured that our customers continue to have access to fresh affordable food, every single day.

“It has never been more important to ensure that our colleagues are rewarded fully for their immense contribution during a challenging period for everyone.”

Geograph

The news comes after Morrisons announced 96,000 of their workers will receive a pay rise to at least £10 an hour.

Morrisons became the first UK supermarket to pay at least £10 an hour, with the rise coming into play in April. 

David Potts, Morrisons CEO, said: “It’s great to be able to say that in the UK from April this year, if you work at Morrisons supermarkets, you will earn at least £10 an hour.

“It’s a symbolic and important milestone that represents another step in rewarding the incredibly important work that our colleagues do up and down the country.”

He added: “Morrisons colleagues have earned their status as key workers, and this pay increase, many times over.”

 

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