As Prime Minister prepares to announce on Tuesday his intention to “build, build, build” new homes, hospitals, schools, roads and rail projects on a very fast-track schedule, the Labor party says the need the most urgent is to protect existing jobs in sectors that do not have a reopening date. These include nightclubs, casinos, indoor gyms, swimming pools, fitness and dance studios, bowling alleys, indoor play areas, conference centers, beauty and tanning salons, and nail bars.
Under current Treasury plans, employers will be required from August to contribute to the leave scheme – under which the state currently covers 80% of wages up to a ceiling of £ 2,500, as well as employers’ national insurance contributions and retirement contributions. This will be the case even if they have not been allowed to reopen.
The government has said it will end the program completely in November, creating a potential cliff edge for many businesses struggling to break even.
Unions are demanding that areas that remain fully or partially closed be exempt from paying employer contributions at least until they recover well. This would encourage companies to keep workers in their books rather than fire them.
Shadow Affairs Secretary Ed Miliband told Observer that the focus should be on “jobs, jobs, jobs” with a return-to-work budget as soon as possible and flexible targeted support for at-risk businesses, as happens in other countries like the New Zealand.
“The scale of the economic emergency we face is enormous. But the government is removing the carpet from companies underemploying a million people by demanding that they start paying the cost of permission when they don’t even know when they can reopen, “he said.
“The government’s approach will jeopardize jobs, businesses and livelihoods, which will impose costs on all of us. Failure to act to protect jobs now will only add to the burdens we face in terms of higher benefit payments, lost tax revenue and a smaller economy, “said Miliband.
Write in the Observer, former Labor Prime Minister and Chancellor Gordon Brown delivers a stifling critique of the government’s economic response to Covid-19, accusing him of “procrastinating and delaying” and betraying those who need it most. Calling for a July budget, he says “its main objective” should be “support and, if necessary, recapitalization of viable British businesses and the prevention of mass unemployment”.
“An employment budget should include tax credits for those limited to short-term work, retraining subsidies for those forced to relocate, and the rapid implementation of a comprehensive employment program , work experience and training for a new generation of leavers and graduates facing an unprecedented fall in youth unemployment, ”writes Brown.
Instead, the Treasury – panicked by the likely magnitude of debt and deficit and now politically micromanaged from # 10 – appears to be virtually frozen. Having acted as the generous economic dove of the spring, he is now, sadly, poised to become the tax hawk of the fall. “
The Treasury insists that its leave regime is unprecedented in all major economies. It finances more than 8 million workers, at an estimated cost of £ 14 billion a month.
Johnson will say in his opening speech that there will be no “return to austerity” imposed by the Conservative / Lib Dem coalition in 2010, resulting in cuts of up to 40% in ministerial budgets and sharp cuts in board funding.
Instead, he should announce that the government will invest heavily in construction and infrastructure nationwide, and accelerate the construction of homes and other infrastructure plans announced in the Conservative manifesto. The focus is also likely to be on reforming the planning system and cutting red tape, which green groups say will mean looser environmental protection.
Labor leader Keir Starmer received a boost today, the latest Opinium poll placed him before Boris Johnson for the first time when voters are asked who they would prefer as Prime Minister (37% say Starmer, while 35% call Johnson).
The Labor Party is also way ahead of the Tories on approval notes for its responses to the Covid-19 crisis. The government’s approval rating is minus 10%, while that of Labor has increased from nine points in one week to over 9. And after a week in which many people rushed to the British beaches and some seemed breaking social distancing rules, more than half (54%) now think the UK is breaking the lock too quickly, up from 46% last week.
The Department of Health and Welfare announced yesterday that 100 more people have died after being tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the official death toll to 43,514.