Sunak sweetens the lockdown medicine by pouring £1.5bn into councils

Rishi Sunak sweetens the lockdown medicine: Chancellor pours £1.5billion into English councils to help them deal with the new rules and promises £1.3billion in grants to firms in Wales Scotland and Northern Ireland

Millions of people will be plunged deeper into lockdown this week across north west and north east England, despite fears for thousands of jobs, especially in hospitality jobs

Local councils are to get £1.5billion in fresh money to deal with the latest coronavirus restrictions, Rishi Sunak said tonight as he also offered cash grants  to businesses in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The free-spending Chancellor joined Boris Johnson at a live television news conference tonight as The PM warned that the UK cannot ignore the ‘flashing warnings’ about surging coronavirus cases.

Millions of people will be plunged deeper into lockdown this week across north west and north east England, despite fears for thousands of jobs, especially in hospitality jobs.   

Mr Sunak attempted to sweeten the lockdown medicine, by promising more money for local authorities that will play an increasing role in setting and enforcing the lockdown in their area.

He said: ‘For local authorities entering Tier Three we are providing up to £0.5billion to fund activities like enforcement, compliance and contact tracing.

‘ And to protect vital services we are providing around £1billion of additional funding for all local authorities, on top of the £3.7billion we have already provided since March.’ 

The free-spending Chancellor joined Boris Johnson at a live television news conference tonight as The PM warned that the UK cannot ignore the ‘flashing warnings’ about surging coronavirus cases

More than 17million people are covered by the two higher risk tiers in the government’s new system, with the rest of England under the Rule of Six and 10pm curfew on bars and restaurants

 He reiterated his Winter Economic Plan that includes a stripped down version of the furlough scheme that will pay two-thirds of staff wages at firms forced to close. 

He added: ‘Businesses in England that are legally obliged to close can now claim a cash grant of up to £3,000 per month depending in the value of their business premises.

‘Those grants can be used for any business cost and will never need to be repaid. 

‘And I am guaranteeing an extra £1.3billion of funding to the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland administrations if they choose to do something similar.’

Unveiling his new ‘Three Tier’ system, the PM declared that Liverpool will be the first area to face the highest restrictions – meaning pubs being shut and households banned from mixing altogether indoors or in gardens.

However, there was anger as another swathe of the country is being thrown into the Tier Two bracket, with bars allowed to stay open but households barred from mixing indoors. Many of the locations already have similar curbs, but others – such as Manchester and the West Midlands – will see a tightening.

Confusingly some other places will have their rules loosened, as the arrangements are ‘streamlined’.

Insisting he had no choice about acting as the UK racked up another 13,972 Covid cases today – up 11 per cent on last Monday – Mr Johnson said the other options were to ‘let the virus rip’ or ‘shatter’ the economy. Liverpool’s case rate per 100,000 population has risen by 14.3 per cent over the past week to 609.

At the No10 press conference this evening, Mr Johnson said: ‘The figures are flashing at us like dashboard warnings in a passenger jet and we must act now.’

He added: No one least of all me wants to impose these kinds of restrictions, erosions of our personal liberty, but I’m convinced as I’ve ever been that the British people have the resolve to beat this virus and that together we will do just that.’

However, Prof Whitty risked undermining the PM’s delicately calibrated message by cautioning that the ‘professional view’ was that basic measures in Tier Three ‘will not be sufficient’ to control the virus. He urged local leaders to use the ‘space’ in the rules to beef up the restrictions.

How England breaks down in new COVID tiers 

TIER THREE – VERY HIGH RISK

Liverpool City Region 

Liverpool, Knowsley, Wirral, St Helens, Sefton, Halton 

TIER TWO – HIGH RISK 

Cheshire 

Cheshire West and Chester, Cheshire East 

Greater Manchester 

Manchester, Bolton, Bury, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan, Salford, Rochdale, Oldham, 

Warrington

Derbyshire 

High Peak – the wards of Tintwistle, Padfield, Dinting, St John’s – Old Glossop, Whitfield, Simmondley, Gamesley, Howard Town, Hadfield South, Hadfield North 

Lancashire 

Lancashire, Blackpool, Preston, Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley 

West Yorkshire

Leeds, Bradford, Kirklees, Calderdale, Wakefield South

Yorkshire

Barnsley, Rotherham, Doncaster, Sheffield 

North East 

Newcastle, South Tyneside, North Tyneside, Gateshead, Sunderland, Durham, Northumberland

Tees Valley 

Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton-on-Tees, Darlington, Hartlepool 

West Midlands

Birmingham, Sandwell, Solihull, Wolverhampton, Walsall

Leicester

Leicester, Oadby and Wigston 

Nottingham

Nottinghamshire, Nottingham City

TIER ONE – MEDIUM RISK

Rest of England 

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