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Andy Burnham slams MPs for the way London was spared from Tier 3

‘It gives the impression that jobs outside of London are not worth the same.’

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Mayor of Greater Manchester/Facebook

Andy Burnham has slammed ministers for their handling of the new tier system, including sparing London from Tier 3. 

Mr Burnham has claimed the government took into account the potential economic impact on the capital in sparing London from Tier 3, but did not do the same for Manchester and the rest of the country.

Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, has called for a review into how ministers announced what tiers to apply and expressed fury at the way London had been placed in Tier 2.

Speaking on Radio 4, Mr Burnham said: “The question I would ask this morning is why did they consider the economic impact on London in making the recent decisions about tiering but not about anywhere else in the country?” 

Adding: “And why have they not put any economic impact data out in this assessment? That is clearly unfair. It gives the impression that jobs outside of London are not worth the same.

“And I think MPs are right to challenge the government on this point. We need to understand what these tiers will do to the economy outside of London and to keep MPs in the dark on that when they are being asked to vote today is quite frankly unacceptable.”

When asked if he accepted the Tier 3 ranking in Greater Manchester, he said: “I can’t dispute the evidence at the moment because we’re above the England average.

“What I do challenge is the way this is being done. The government are doing to the country in December what they did to Greater Manchester in October, that is to railroad it into a punishing underfunded lockdown that will severely damage the hospitality industry and other industries in the supply chain.

“And I hope some Conservative MPs now can understand why we took the stance we did back then. And I say they’re right to take the stance they’re taking now.”

The financial support from the furlough scheme and grants was pointed out to the mayor.

He responded: “Of course, I will look to see what the prime minister puts in the table today. There is talk of more and that is welcome although that’s at a very late hour. The British Beer and Pub Association wrote to the Prime Minister yesterday and they were saying the grants needed to to be the equivalent to the grants in the first lockdown if we’re not to see the loss of huge numbers of pubs across the country.

“Let’s remember what we call wet-led pubs are often in the most deprived communities and they are crucial in those communities because they are a meeting place for people.

“If we see the loss of those pubs, they’ll never come back.

“But there’s a separate issue about the supply chain… The Government have made discretionary support available to councils but what they are saying is there will be no more support for Tier 3 areas than those going into tiers 1 and 2. That cannot possibly be right because this is funding that can be used to support the cleaning industry, catering, security, taxis and all of the industries that are reliant on the pub and restaurant trade.

“And to say to Tier 3 areas you’re getting no more discretionary support than Tier 1 Isle of Wight and Cornwall in Greater Manchester that’s just not a tenable situation.”

Speaking on the decision to allow three household to mix over Christmas, Mr Burnham said: “This is I think part of the problem. The government has been too strict in December to allow a too permissive a Christmas period… I think a more balanced approach should have been taken here.”

The mayor added: “I think a more steady approach would have been better because January is the worst possible time in the National Health Service with or without Covid. And I think it’s a risk to allow five days of mixing of three households.”

 

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Fred Perry is opening a huge new flagship store in Afflecks

Who’s excited for this?

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Afflecks / Jody Hartley 

In some good news for our city centre, Fred Perry has announced that it will be opening a huge new store in the Northern Quarter.

The new flagship store will be located at the bottom of the Afflecks building, and is welcome news following the recent closure of high street stalwarts like Debenhams and Topshop.

Fred Perry will be moving from its current location on Police Street to open the new, bigger flagship store on the corner of Oldham Street and Church Street.

The site will see the iconic British brand move into the 2,820 sq ft unit this summer, joining Manchester’s legendary Afflecks which is owned by Bruntwood Works.

Afflecks / Jody Hartley 

Fred Perry was co-founded by the Stockport-born tennis champion of the same name back in the late 1940s, and has gained worldwide fame for its laurel wreath logo and polo shirts.

Richard Gilmore, managing director at Fred Perry, said: “We’re delighted to be moving to the Northern Quarter. The area has no shortage of strong associations to ground-breaking music and subcultural style – something we continue to champion.

“Our retail spaces aren’t just shops, and we’re looking forward to sharing what we do with the Manchester community as part of an exciting continuation of Fred Perry and Afflecks’ mutual commitment to heritage and innovation.

“We now have a space we can be truly proud of in Manchester.”

Charles Roffey / Flickr

Chris Middleton, senior retail manager at Bruntwood Works, added: “Fred Perry is a true icon, and we’re delighted to be welcoming them to the ground floor of our famous Afflecks building.

“The addition of this much-loved brand will bolster the retail community in the Northern Quarter neighbourhood, building on Oldham Street’s offering as a lifestyle-led shopping destination.

“It feels particularly exciting to be announcing the news after what has been a challenging twelve months for retail, as we look forward to a bright future for Manchester city centre.”

The new Fred Perry store will open this summer, although an exact date has yet to be released. 

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People on working tax credits will get a £500 one-off payment, Rishi Sunak confirms

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Number 10/Flickr

Brits on tax credits get a one-off benefits payment of £500, Rishi Sunak reveals in budget. 

Outlined in the budget, Sunak explained that a £20 weekly increase in universal credit will extend for a further six months.

The chancellor explains that by the way Working Tax Credits system works people will not be able to receive the extra £20 weekly. 

Instead, people will benefit from a £500 one-off payment.

Number 10 / Flickr

Mr Sunak said: “To support low-income households, the Universal Credit uplift of £20 a week will continue for a further six months, well beyond the end of this national lockdown

“We’ll provide Working Tax Credit claimants with equivalent support for the next six months.

“Because of the way that system works operationally, we’ll need to do so with a one-off payment of £500.”

The £500 tax credit boost will run in the same way that the Universal Credit is paid – automatically. 

Lots of people have switched from the old ‘Tax Credit’ to the new ‘Universal Credit’ system. Anyone who hasn’t yet been transferred across will now be eligible for this new one-off payment. 

The number of people claiming universal credit in the UK has doubled since the start of the pandemic, reaching 6 million people at the start of this year. 

The extra benefit support is welcomed but many are raising concerns that six months is not long enough.

Sunak also revealed in today’s budget that furlough will be extended until September but employers will have to pay 10% of the employee’s wages in July and 20% in August and September. 

You can see a round-up of all the key points from the budget here

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What Rishi Sunak’s new budget means for people in Greater Manchester

Everything you need to know

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alvariummcr & flokmcr/Instagram

Rishi Sunak has said he wants to be honest about the government’s plans for fixing the public finances.

The chancellor says there has been ‘acute damage’ to the economy, with more than 700,000 people losing jobs and the economy shrinking by 10% – the largest fall in 300 years.

Borrowing has also been as high as during wartime.

He said: “It’s going to take this country, and the whole world, a long time to recover from this extraordinary situation.”

Here are the key points from his 2021 budget announcement….

The Bay Horse Tavern/Facebook

Furlough

  • Sunak explains that 1.8 million fewer people are expected to be out of work than previously thought, with the peak at 6.5% down from the forecasted peak of 11.9%.
  • Furlough is set to be extended until the end of September this year, however, firms will be asked to contribute 10% of employee’s wages in July and 20% in August and September as the scheme is gradually phased out.
  • A fourth grant worth 80% of average trading profits up to £7,500 covering February to April that will help self-employed people.
  • The £20 increase in universal credit will extend for six months

Business Support

  • Total cash support to businesses has reached £25bn. A further £5bn restart grant has now been confirmed to help companies get going after lockdown.
  • Hospitality and leisure businesses will pay no business rates for three months, then discounted for the remaining nine months of the year by two-thirds.
  • The 5% VAT cut will be extended to the end of September and gradually increased at 12.5% for six months before returning to the normal rate in April 2022.

David Dixon/Geograph

Housing

  • The stamp duty holiday will be extended on properties up to £500,000 to the end of June. It will return to normal levels from October 1st.
  • Mortgage guarantees were also confirmed to help first-time buyers access 95% mortgages, with just 5% deposits.

Public Finances

  • The government will take a ‘fair’ approach to ‘fixing the public finances’ the chancellor confirms.
  • There will be no increase in national insurance, income tax or VAT.
  • The personal allowance will remain at £12,750 until 2026 and the higher rate will increase to £50,270 next year.
  • Inheritance tax threshold, pensions lifetime allowance, annual exempt allowance from capital gains tax and VAT exemption thresholds will all be frozen.
  • New minimum wage rates come into force in England on April 1st. Basic rate workers will see a 2.2% increase, with the National Living Wage rising to £8.91 an hour.

David Dixon/Geograph

Borrowing

  • The budget deficit will reach £355billion this year (17% of GDP) – the highest level in peacetime.
  • Sunak said: “It’s going to be the work of many governments over many decades to pay it back, just as it would be irresponsible to withdraw support too soon, it would also be irresponsible to allow our future borrowing and debt to rise unchecked.”

Growth

  • The chancellor explains that the economy will recover more quickly than previously thought.
  • GDP will grow by 4% this year and 7.3% next year according to official forecasts.

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