Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis warns Prime Minister Covid-19 road map must avoid 'deeply divided recovery'
The South Yorkshire Metro Mayor Dan Jarvis has advised Boris Johnson that his lockdown exit plan must avoid a ‘deeply divided recovery’ for the North and South.
It comes as the Prime Minister is set to announce his road map out of the current Covid-19 restrictions to the nation tomorrow (February 22) – which he has already explained will be intentionally ‘cautious’ to ensure this is the last lockdown.
Mr Jarvis has said that lifting coronavirus measures, without providing additional economic support for jobs and businesses, will ‘level down’ towns and cities that are already struggling and ‘entrench inequality’ between South Yorkshire and the rest of the country.
The Sheffield City Region Mayor warned that there could be an unfair situation where parts of the country are able to reunite with their families and have their economies opened up, while other areas remain in tighter restrictions with workers and businesses finding it difficult to survive.
He has instead encouraged Mr Johnson to make sure the country exits the current national lockdown together, ‘cautiously and gradually’, with a focus on health and economic measures that work hand in hand.
The Mayor is also calling for the budget on March 3 to provide more financial support for workers to self-isolate, with payments increased above £500 and the criteria extended to include more people.
“COVID is causing unprecedented upheaval, choking-off life opportunities and tearing the heart and soul out of communities across the North", the Mayor of Sheffield City Region said.
“Unless the PM’s road map out of lockdown includes the necessary urgent measures for economic and social renewal, then all we’ll see is a deeply divided recovery that further entrenches the inequalities that have held our country back for too long.”
“Past mistakes tell us we should not hastily abandon the restrictions and sacrifices that have saved lives and protected the NHS.
"They also show that without health and economic support working hand in glove, we’ll not only struggle get to the virus under control, but leave workers and businesses feeling abandoned.”
Mr Jarvis also urges the Prime Minister to adopt a flexible furlough scheme and increase the level of support for sectors still hampered by restrictions, along with investment in the South Yorkshire Renewal Action Plan to create jobs and kick start the region’s economic recovery from Covid-19.
He continued: “In parts of South Yorkshire, only a third of people can work from home.
"Our warehouse and distribution workers keep supermarket shelves stocked and essential goods and supplies moving.
"But they do so facing great danger.
"If workers are unable to stay at home, it puts lives at risk and delays our efforts to get the virus under the control: leading to a vicious, never-ending cycle of tighter restrictions and damage to our economy.
“People, businesses and our NHS cannot afford a fourth lockdown.
"We should ease restrictions step by step: in line with the science, with the right economic support and in a cautious and gradual timeframe.
"If the Prime Minister and Chancellor do not get this right, South Yorkshire and the North will be further levelled down for the long-term.
"They must put us on the right course at the Budget.”