London punishing the north is no accident: it’s how England is run | Tom Hazeldine

As long as the economy is structured around the City – the south will find it easier to bound back from Covid

Since the first brush with autumn, “local” measures to contain coronavirus have multiplied to span entire regions. Merseyside and Lancashire sit together in the new tier 3 alert level, with Greater Manchester resisting the categorisation due to insufficient financial support. The whole of north-east England has been placed in the tier 2 alert level, along with much of Yorkshire, Cheshire, and London and neighbouring Essex. In sum, 14 out of 16 million people in the north of England are now living under additional restrictions, joined by 9 million Londoners.

The deliberate suppression of economic activity indicated by tier 3 hospitality closures and tight curbs on households mixing in tiers 2 and 3, however necessary, is going to make for a tight winter. The true unemployment rate in Liverpool was already 19% before the pandemic. Half of renters and a quarter of mortgage holders in the north-west lack the “financial resilience” to cover a 20% loss of household employment income lasting into the new year. Rishi Sunak’s local furlough scheme implies a 34% reduction in wages for hospitality workers potentially through to March.

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