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Health minister slammed for saying Covid job support should only be extended to those in work

JUNIOR Health Minister Helen Whatley was criticised today for claiming that there is no need for government to save jobs in industries where there “isn’t work at the moment.”

The Faversham MP was asked how someone who works in a nightclub or a theatre closed due to the coronavirus pandemic would benefit from Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s new scheme.

The scheme, which replaces the furlough scheme from November 1, offers a limited top-up to wages if workers work at least a third of their hours.

Describing nightlife industry workers, Sky News presenter Kay Burley said: “They’re not earning any money, so they’re not going to get any money at all from the government, are they?”

Ms Whatley said: “It doesn’t make sense to continue supporting jobs where there simply isn’t work at the moment. We’ve got to support people where they can be working.”

Wes Streeting, Labour’s shadow Exchequer secretary to the Treasury, said: “We’re back to the worst days of Thatcher’s sink-or-swim mentality.

“And just like in the 1980s, it’s people on the lowest incomes in the north and the Midlands who will pay the highest price.”

He added that Mr Sunak should incentivise bosses to keep staff on.

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