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

The TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady and Yorkshire & the Humber Regional Secretary Bill Adams 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 new lockdown restrictions loom across Yorkshire.

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 local lockdown areas that are affected by low demand but not required to close 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 letter comes as MPs prepare to debate new local lockdown restrictions in the House of Commons tomorrow, including the chancellor’s proposed expansion of the job support scheme to cover two-thirds of workers’ salaries where businesses are forced to close.

Government measures inadequate for lowest paid

The TUC says these measures are “inadequate” and that ministers must do more to prevent unnecessary hardship.

Annual figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released in August showed that the number of people on zero hours contracts had hit 89,000, the highest number on record.

Further ONS data shows that from March-June, 11,000 workforce jobs were lost in hospitality, food, arts and entertainment across our region.

Data in September from the Low Pay Commission showed that 40,000 workers in Yorkshire are being paid below the National Minimum Wage.

The TUC is concerned that lockdown restrictions are disproportionately impacting low paid workers in service jobs, and the short time furlough measures are not enough to prevent mass unemployment.

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 achieve this - such as today’s DCMS announcement on the first round of grants in its £1.57bn 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 Regional Secretary Bill Adams said:

“The lockdown measures announced today will have an enormous impact on the lives of working people in South and West Yorkshire. 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.

“It’s low paid workers in insecure jobs who are paying the price here.

“We have been clear on what’s needed to save jobs and livelihoods. Wage replacement should be 80% where businesses are forced to close. Firms which are hit by stricter local restrictions but aren’t required to close need a more generous short-time working scheme. And there needs to be extra help for the overlooked self-employed in local lockdown areas 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.”


Editors note

- The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together more than 5.5 million working people who make up our 48 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.


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