Emily Thornberry Labour MP for Islington South and Finsbury
Thank you for your email about your concerns regarding the government’s support package for workers during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Recently, I have received many emails from constituents who have been fearful about what might happen to them without a meaningful extension of either the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme or the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme. Many have rightly expressed to me just how inadequate they have found the government’s plans for future support.
With the government admitting that they are preparing for unemployment figures in the UK to reach 4 million, workers and their families are understandably scared for the future. And now that the Chancellor has said his focus is only on the retention of so-called “viable jobs”, those who work in industries which have so far been unable to get back up and running have been left wondering whether they are going to be included in that category.
From 1 November, we have been told that employees can expect to receive a minimum of 77% of their normal wages, if their government contribution is not capped. Their employer will pay them for the time they work, and the cost of the hours they don’t work will be split between their employer, the government through wage support and themselves through a wage reduction. At the same time, self-employed people will only be able to claim for a taxable grant covering 20% of their monthly profits. That is nowhere near enough.
Boris Johnson can say as many times as he likes that his government is going to put its arms around every single worker in our country, but simply saying it won’t make it true. Whilst the furlough scheme has acted as an essential lifeline to many, we cannot forget that there are other people, such as freelancers and new starters, who have been unable to benefit from any government support right from the very start.
The Labour Party believes that withdrawing furlough support from workers in the current economic climate is unacceptable. Anneliese Dodds, our Shadow Chancellor, called on Rishi Sunak 40 times between 7 May and 23 September 2020 to rethink his one-size-fits-all withdrawal of furlough support. Her plea was dismissed by the government 20 times.
Labour recognises that if we want to guarantee a better and more secure future for the people of our country, we need to fight for jobs, back our businesses, leave no one behind, keep our workers safe and drive job creation. You can find out more about our campaigning on jobs by visiting the following link: http://labour.org.uk/press/24-hours-to-save-british-jobs-labour-launches-jobs-jobs-jobs-campaign
At a time when we need urgent and sustained government support for jobs, what we have received instead is beyond disappointing and I would like to extend my solidarity to all workers, particularly those who are self-employed, across Islington South and Finsbury who quite clearly deserve better than what the government is offering. Please be assured that Labour will continue to hold the Tories to account for their abysmal response to the Coronavirus pandemic.
I sincerely hope that you and your family are safe and well. Thank you again for contacting me about this important issue. If you have any further points you would like to raise with me about this subject or any other, please do not hesitate to get back in touch.
The Rt Hon. Emily Thornberry MP
Islington South and Finsbury