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TIME is running out for millions of people on the coronavirus job furlough scheme as well as businesses that face going to the wall when government support is axed at the end of October, Labour warned today.
Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds used her keynote speech to Labour’s online conference to attack Chancellor Rishi Sunak for “allowing the clock to run down on the four million people on furlough” who could soon be at risk of redundancy.
She said: “He’s doing exactly the same for the millions of businesses that have needed a helping hand to survive these last few months.
“From March next year, repayments will start for the loan schemes set up to help businesses through the crisis. But, on the current trend, our economy won’t be anything like back to normal by then.
“Without effective government action, many companies will go to the wall, with more job losses and more costs for the public finances.
“That is why I am calling today for the Chancellor to act urgently and put in place a business rebuilding programme.”
Ms Dodds said it must be a targeted scheme to prevent more large sums of public money from being squandered by the government’s “financial mismanagement.”
It was revealed ahead of her speech that the government has doled out some £3.9 billion for ineffective schemes and equipment in the name of beating coronavirus.
Ms Dodds also warned that the government is returning to using “language of restraint” when talking about the economy by threatening post-pandemic tax hikes and deep spending cuts long before the next election.
She said: “We all know what that means from the mouth of a Conservative chancellor — more jobs lost in places that can least afford them — with local councils being hung out to dry and forced to cut thousands of staff.
“Attacking the very communities the Conservatives said they would protect. And taking place at a time when our government should be focused relentlessly on jobs, jobs, jobs.
“Threatening to hike taxes now, just so they can cut them before the next election.
“To make even deeper spending cuts, in the hope people will have forgotten by the time they go to the polls.
“It doesn’t have to be this way. Workers and businesses should expect more, much more from those in power.”
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