Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has said he was “surprised and disappointed” after the idea of a Hardship Fund to top up furlough payments and support the self-employed was flat out rejected by the government yesterday.

Burnham also criticised the government’s “selective statistics” in describing its hospital capacity, which he said rather than being overwhelmed, was in line with a normal winter period.

The Labour mayor said he had reiterated his willingness to continue to work towards an agreement, but added: “Greater Manchester has been in Tier-2 style restrictions for almost three months, and this has taken a toll on people and businesses here. With this in mind, we do not believe it is in any way unreasonable for us to require better protection for our lowest-paid residents.”

The impasse comes after reports circulated that Rishi Sunak was ready to release tens of millions of pounds in support for the city region to enter into tier 3.

The Liverpool city region has been given £30m by the UK government to help businesses in another concession to local politicians accepting tighter coronavirus restrictions.

Civic leaders agreed the region’s 1.6m people would be subjected to the highest, Tier 3, measures, on Monday.