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  • Union body writes to local MPs to underline its proposals to help workers, employers and businesses through tightening restrictions 

The TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady and London, East and South East Regional Secretary Sam Gurney have today written to local MPs urging them to demand answers from government on job support and raise the need for improved financial assistance for affected workers as a tier 2 lockdown in London and Essex looms.  

In the letter, the union body says the government has not gone far enough to save jobs and livelihoods, underlining the calls it set out last week for a three-pronged local furlough approach:  

  • The local furlough scheme for businesses that are required to close should be made more generous. It should mirror the original job retention scheme, reimbursing employers for 80% of the wages of their workers.    

  • Businesses based in tier 2 and tier 3 lockdown areas that are affected by low demand but can stay open should be eligible for an enhanced local Job Support Scheme, giving financial assistance over and above the national scheme. There should be no requirement to work a minimum number of hours. And the government should cover 60% of wages for non-working time, with the employer covering 20%.  

  • The government should also consider how to ensure self-employed workers do not miss out on necessary support, for example, by increasing the payments rate of the self-employment income support scheme round 3 from 20% to 60% of taxable monthly profits for those who can demonstrate renewed reductions in demand as a result of additional local restrictions.   

The chancellor recently announced the expansion of the job support scheme to cover two-thirds of workers’ salaries where businesses are forced to close. The TUC says these measures are “inadequate” and that ministers must do more to prevent “unnecessary hardship”.  

The union body also says the government must ensure any sector-specific support is focused on securing jobs and livelihoods, guaranteeing that any funding already set aside achieves this – such as this week’s DCMS announcement on the first round of grants in its £1.57bn arts fund.  

The TUC also uses the letter to repeat its call for the government to make all working people eligible for statutory sick pay (SSP), and to raise it to the equivalent of the real Living Wage (£320 pw). This would avoid people required to self-isolate being plunged into poverty.     

TUC London, East and South East Regional Secretary Sam Gurney said: 

“The lockdown measures announced today will have an enormous impact on the lives of working people in London and Essex. Yet the government’s job support package remains inadequate.  Ministers must do more to prevent unnecessary hardship and local MPs need to take the government to task on this.   

“We have been clear on what’s needed to save jobs and livelihoods. Workers should have 80% of their wages covered through the job support scheme where businesses are forced to close. Firms which are hit by stricter local restrictions but can stay open need a more generous short-time working scheme, with significantly reduced employer contributions. And there needs to be extra help for the overlooked self-employed too.    

“And the government must get a grip on its chaotic test and trace system and pay a living wage sick pay to everyone self-isolating.”   

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