Today the Chancellor set out a Winter Economic Plan – something we have been urging him to do to address the need for support for businesses and to protect jobs as new Coronavirus restrictions come into place.
The belated decision to U-turn on the furlough cliff edge that was looming for four million people at the end of October is a welcome move. The new job support scheme will subsidise pay for workers who are doing fewer hours than normal as a result of lower demand.
The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme has also been extended. However, I am already hearing from many self-employed people who fear the new scheme – which will cover 20% of average monthly profits – will not be enough to support families through the winter.
The VAT cut for retail and hospitality has also been extended, as has business loan support.
While help to get through these difficult months is welcome, this feels like too little, too late from a Government in denial about its inability to get a grip on Test, Trace and Isolate.
There are many people who have been excluded from the various support schemes throughout this crisis. People who have fallen through the gaps and still nothing was offered from the Chancellor to help them today.
I am also concerned there has been no support for workers losing their jobs, especially in sectors still hard hit by the virus, and no help to retrain for new careers.
The ban on eviction has now ended and the ban on repossessions for homeowners expires next month, which means many could now face losing their home too.
This pandemic is a crisis we have never faced before and we need strong and competent leadership to bring the country together and see us through.
Time and time again the Government have fallen short of what is needed. Their incompetence on testing is unforgivable and the I fear these latest measures won’t be enough to stem job losses.
In Parliament we are pushing the Government to go further and to get a grip on this before its out of control again. We will keep their feet to the fire until they do.
If you have not already done so, please consider installing the new NHS contact tracing app for the fastest way of knowing when you’re at risk from coronavirus (COVID-19). https://www.nhs.uk/apps-library/nhs-covid-19/