South Yorkshire will this weekend move into the harshest Tier 3 coronavirus lockdown restrictions – becoming the fourth area where rules are imposed meaning pubs and bars not serving food, as well as casinos, soft play areas and other businesses must close.
Each area – most notably Greater Manchester – have had differing levels of success in negotiating packages of support for their businesses to help them survive.
On Thursday, it was revealed that “formal discussions” have also begun with Warrington over moving to Tier 3, although the level of support on offer is yet to be disclosed.
But what has been agreed with the northern regions already in Tier 3 – and how do these financial packages differ?
Liverpool City Region
As well as a £14m package to help the region with local enforcement of schemes such as test and trace, the Liverpool City Region was handed a £30m business support package.
With a population of around 1.5m people across six council areas, that £44m total worked out at around £29 per person, with Tier 3 imposed from October 14.
The agreement followed days of talks between council leaders led by Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram and central Government.
And it was not without controversy, as initially gyms were told to close, while those in neighbouring Lancashire and Greater Manchester had been allowed to remain open.
After a backlash, it was confirmed this week that the decision had been overturned, with all Tier 3 restrictions standardised, meaning soft play centres would also have to close.
Earlier in the month, the combined authority also announced it was to release a fund of up to £40m for struggling hospitality and leisure businesses.
Lancashire’s 14 districts went into Tier 3 three days after the Liverpool City Region, with a similar package of financial support.
This time, it was a £12m package for track and trace, with the business support package also standing at £30m. Similar to Liverpool, that means a support package of around £28 per person.
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The announcement was made on Friday, with the rules in force from the very next day.
Some council leaders said they felt “bullied and blackmailed” into accepting the deal, with Coun Mohammed Khan, leader of Blackburn with Darwen admitting it had been made “with a very heavy heart”.
The Government will pay £22m to help authorities implement restrictions, including track and trace restrictions. That works out at approximately £8 per capita.
It will also get £60m for business support and to help low paid workers – which is in line with the offer for South Yorkshire of approximately £22 per head.
The lockdown in Greater Manchester led to a showdown between Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and Westminster first over the scientific evidence for a Tier 3 lockdown and then over the level of financial support.
Mayor Burnham said he would not allow the area to become a ‘canary in the coalmine’ arguing of the huge impact the restrictions would have on its economy.
In the end, an agreement was not reached between Westminster and local leaders before the Government announced Tier 3 measures were to be imposed.
Mayor Burnham was giving a press conference when the decision was relayed to him via text.
Civic leaders wanted a minimum of £65m to support the region’s 2.8m people, but Boris Johnson refused to offer more than £60m.
Around 1.4m people in Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield will be under Tier 3 restrictions from Saturday morning.
The package of support agreed includes £11m to invest in test, trace and complaince– equivalent to around £8 per capita.
A further £30m of support for businesses affected by the restrictions, as well as their employees, will be offered. This equates to approximately £22 per capita. That’s a total of £29 per head.
After the announcement was made, Sheffield City Council leader Julie Dore described the negotiations with government over Tier 3 restrictions as a “charade”.
She said it was clear Downing Street officials and ministers were going through the motions for 10 days just to try and prove they were listening.
Ms Dore was speaking after Sheffield City Region mayor Dan Jarvis, who led the discussions, admitted he could not have secured any more cash, saying he “moved heaven and earth to secure the maximum amount of resource that we could”.
Ms Dore told the PA news agency: “We genuinely thought we were in proper discussions and negotiations.”
But she said: “I think it’s outrageous.
“I entered into it in good faith and, basically, it was just a charade that we went through.”
The Labour councillor said all the Tier 3 areas have got roughly the same deal and the Government should have told them this was going to be the case when talks started on October 9.