Seven months after the Chancellor launched his ‘Plan for Jobs’ last July, 9170 people in Lewisham Deptford are claiming out of work benefits and 13,788 people are still on furlough.
The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, initially triggered a one-size-fits-all wind down of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) in his Plan for Jobs last July. After several last-minute changes over the autumn and winter, the scheme is now set to expire at the end of April, with rumours suggesting it might be extended.
With 5 million people still on furlough nationally, my Labour colleagues and I are calling for the Government not to repeat the mistakes of last year by winding down the scheme while public health restrictions are in place and demand is still severely impacted.
Instead, we are calling for the Chancellor to immediately announce an extension to the furlough scheme, to remove uncertainty for local businesses and workers. We are also calling for urgent reform to make furlough smarter, with new training to help furloughed workers improve their skills and tough conditions on employers to stop abuse.
Labour’s figures also show that 6100 people in Lewisham Deptford had made claims under the Coronavirus Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) by the end of October. The Chancellor has left millions of self-employed people relying on the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) scheme in the dark about future support.
We are calling on Rishi Sunak to set the fourth grant of the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) at 80% of pre-crisis profits – and to do it now, not at the Budget.
We have also called for the scheme to opened to the 200,000 people who only have a 2019/20 tax return, and for the Chancellor to urgently fix the holes its support schemes that have left millions of others excluded from support.
Rishi Sunak’s Plan for Jobs has been a disaster. Seven months after its launch, we’ve got record redundancies, soaring unemployment and the worst economic crisis of any major economy. We need urgent action to secure, recover and create jobs to help people claiming out of work benefits and those still on furlough. This must include a smarter furlough scheme, an overhaul of the failing Kickstart youth programme, and reform of the shambolic Green Homes Grant as part of wider action to ‘Build it in Britain’ and support the creation of 400,000 new jobs.
People can’t afford to wait for the Chancellor to get his act together. They need emergency action today, not more dither and delay until the Budget.