Matt Hancock has described the new rules, announced late last night, as ‘crystal clear’ speaking this morning.
The government have faced backlash this morning over the way they announced new localised restrictions in the North of England last night.
People in Greater Manchester, parts of East Lancashire and West Yorkshire were told they could no longer meet anybody from another household indoors.
The ban was announced at 9pm last night, coming into effect at 12pm.
Many people were confused as to what the new rules meant for them and expressed concerns regarding the announcement taking place via Matt Hancock’s Twitter account.
A short video clip was released shortly after 9pm last night, however, some local public health directors did now know about the new announcement.
The government published its Q&A on the changes at 22 minutes past midnight. They also explained that people can face £100 fines for breaking the rules, despite explaining that the law does not yet exist.
Matt Hancock told Sky News today that the measures are ‘crystal clear’, adding a press conference will be held later today ‘at which more details will be put out and more of the questions will be answered.’
He said: “It’s absolutely crystal clear what the measure is. Which is that you shouldn’t socialise with people in other households except in public outdoor places – so not in your own home or your garden.
“You can go to the pub, but with members of your own household.”
Andy Burnham has also expressed concerns regarding the announcement. He told Sky News that ‘last night a lot of people I think felt very uncertain about what exactly was being announced.’
Adding: “So what I would say to them (ministers) is I understand the need to make announcements, I understand the need for decisive action.
“But when ministers go in front of the cameras, make sure you’ve got the detail ready to go exactly at the same time.”
Manchester Central MP and shadow business minister Lucy Powell said: “The way they’ve been announced has frankly been a bit of a disaster.
“Announcing them two hours before they come into effect is a bit of a bolt out of the blue with no-one around able to answer some of the basic questions, I really is not the way to build confidence and to take people with you and to maximise compliance with these steps.
“We really do need some real answers to basic questions this morning so that people can understand what they need to do.”
Tory MP for Hazel Grove William Wragg said: “‘Greater Manchester’ is not one homogeneous area.
“We must always err on the side of caution with COVID, but to treat all 10 boroughs the same is not the right approach.”
The new rules came into effect from Midnight last night and mean you can no longer meet with people outside of your household indoors.
Mr Hancock said: “The biggest risk in terms of the spread if this virus across this area is household transmission when people are going to see each other in each other’s homes when they’re not in a household together. And also visiting friends and relatives.
“Actually we’re not seeing as much transmission in terms of people in their place of work, going to retail or other areas.”
Matt Hancock has also denied that the action taken was being aimed at curtailing Eid celebrations.
Asked on BBC’s Today programme whether the measures were to stop Eid celebrations Hancock said: “No, my heart goes out to the Muslim communities in these areas because I know how important the Eid celebrations are.
“I’m very grateful to the local Muslim leaders, the imams in fact, across the country who’ve been working so hard to find a way to have COVID-secure celebrations.
“For instance celebrating Eid in parks where there’s more space available and of course outdoors is safer than indoors.”
Fred Perry is opening a huge new flagship store in Afflecks
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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.
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.”
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.
People on working tax credits will get a £500 one-off payment, Rishi Sunak confirms
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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.
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.
What Rishi Sunak’s new budget means for people in Greater Manchester
Everything you need to know
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….
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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.