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JEREMY CORBYN has called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to expand financial help to the five million self-employed workers in Britain.
The Labour leader also insisted that there should be government protection for workers against losing their jobs, more help for renters, improved social security and an increase in statutory sick pay — which is currently just £94.25 per week.
Mr Corbyn wrote to the PM on Saturday night after the government announced an unprecedented raft of measures to give financial security to businesses and to some workers during the coronavirus crisis.
The Labour leader also said yesterday that Parliament must continue sitting in order to handle the developing situation. He emphasised that MPs must be allowed to put questions to the government and continue to have input on emergency legislation, which could be brought forward as early as today.
Hundreds of thousands of workers face a loss of income and increased job insecurity as businesses are forced to close temporarily and workers have to go into self-isolation.
Mr Corbyn wrote that Labour’s proposals “seek only to strengthen the government’s response to ensure we all have the safety and security to get through this.”
He said: “We welcome the direction of the Chancellor’s announcements [on Friday]. But we continue to have concerns that the plans do not provide the economic security that everyone needs to be able to take precautionary measures in response to the coronavirus pandemic.”
He said that many businesses could face closure before the measures are implemented by the end of April.
“The self-employed do not appear to be covered by this scheme — a major omission given there are five million people self-employed and notwithstanding the separate changes to the minimum-income floor.
“With many people likely to face a 20 per cent pay cut under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, we are unsure about whether changes to the housing benefit will make up the shortfall.
“We have also reiterated our call for the suspension of the bedroom tax and the benefit cap, since no-one should be penalised for having entered into rental agreements without foreseeing the coronavirus pandemic.”
The government has also announced that the NHS will be paying for 8,000 private-sector beds during the crisis.
Mr Corbyn said that the beds should be requisitioned, rather than paid for by an overstretched and underfunded NHS.
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