Andy Burnham has hit out at the government over reports London was spared Tier 3 restrictions because of potential job losses.

The Sunday Times and Mail on Sunday both carry stories today with unconfirmed details of a cabinet meeting held on Wednesday night.

Both newspapers claim ministers were given a briefing note that claimed Tier 3 rules would lead to more than 500,000 job losses in the capital compared to Tier 2.

This was said to have persuaded the Prime Minister and his colleagues to put London in Tier 2 despite rising coronavirus cases.

The capital has an R rate of 1-1.2 with cases increasing by as much as 3 per cent a day.

By comparison, the R rate for the North West is 0.8-1 with cases falling by as much as 3 per cent a day.

However much of the country is in Tier 3 meaning hospitality venues must close apart from takeaway and collection services, including Greater Manchester where cases are falling rapidly.

Michael Gove was reportedly among those arguing London should be under the strictest measures due to the high infection rate in several boroughs.

The M.E.N has attempted to contact Downing Street for confirmation that the cabinet received a briefing note on potential job losses in London and whether similar impact assessments were made of other regions.

So far, we have had no response.

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham

The Mayor Andy Burnham tweeted the Mail's story and said: "So it would seem the Government added an extra point to their five criteria - just for London. Obviously, jobs everywhere else don’t matter as much."

It is understood an impact assessment of Tier 3 restrictions versus Tier 2 is something Greater Manchester has been asking the government to provide during negotiations in recent months.

Meanwhile, Mr Burnham also denied reports he has been given private assurances Greater Manchester will be moved into Tier 2 next month.

The government has promised a review of the tiering system on December 16 and several national newspapers have claimed today the mayor has been told it is 'likely' the region will be downgraded from Tier 3.

However, Mr Burnham has issued a clear denial and said he will be fighting for a 'meaningful review' of tiering decisions.

He has also written to all 27 MPs in Greater Manchester asking for cross-party backing for his call for more support for businesses affected by restrictions.

He said: “The Government is continuing a policy of imposing harsh regional lockdowns without providing sufficient support to offset the damage to jobs and businesses."

Michael Gove

“This is a deliberate act of levelling down from a Government which only a year ago was elected on a promise to do precisely the opposite.

“It simply cannot be right or fair that Tier 1 Cornwall and the Isle of Wight are receiving the same level of business support as cities such as Manchester, Leeds and Hull.

“MPs representing Tier 3 areas on all sides of the House need to come together and demand a much fairer support package from the Government."

“For businesses that support hospitality, December is traditionally the most important month of the year.

“To take that away without compensation will be devastating for them and many will not survive into the new year.”

The Government has said discretionary business grant funding will not be increased or extended after the new tier system is introduced.

Grant funding was given to all local authorities at the start of national lockdown to support businesses hit hard by restrictions but not getting grant funding from elsewhere.

Greater Manchester is in Tier 3 while London was placed in Tier 2

It means that places in Tier 3 will get no more of such funding than other areas going into Tier 1 or 2, the mayor said.

Mr Burnham wants areas in the highest level of restrictions to receive a monthly business support grant linked to the number of affected business in any area, rather than simply the number of residents.

While Greater Manchester’s infection rate remains above the England average, cases are now falling faster there than in any other region in England and there are signs of pressure easing on hospitals, the mayor said.

Data published on Wednesday showed the GM infection rate is now the lowest it has been since the end of September, falling by 45% over the last two weeks compared to a 39% fall across the North West and a 13% fall across England.

In London, over the same period, the infection rate increased by 17%.

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