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Chancellor urged to act now as millions of workers fear they will be out of work in six months

THE Chancellor has been urged to act now after research published today reveals six million workers fear they will lose their jobs by the end of the year. 

The Centre for Labour and Social Studies (Class) found that one in five workers feel “somewhat or very confident” that they will lose their current job in six months’ time.

The polling is part of the think tank’s report “Coronavirus and the Workers Emergency: Labour Market Realities 2020,” which lays bare the turmoil that desperate workers are going through in the coronavirus pandemic.

About 60 per cent of workers are three months or less away from defaulting on their rent or mortgage, with 26 per cent just one month away, the poll found.

Class said the survey shows that simply extending the furlough for a few extra months is not enough on its own.

It calls on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to go further by introducing a new job creation scheme and substantial fiscal stimulus to refocus the economy and grow Britain’s way out of a recession with well-paid green jobs. 

Class director Dr Faiza Shaheen said: “It is shocking that over half of all workers fear they are so close to being without a roof over their heads.

“Millions of people – including those now on universal credit (UC) and those not qualifying for the furlough scheme – will be increasingly desperate as their mortgage and rent holidays end.

“Protecting workers now requires us to look past emergency measures to a recovery plan. Coronavirus has put society in an X-ray machine to reveal its structural weakness and is now magnifying existing inequalities.”

Ms Shaheen said it is up to Mr Sunak to “seize this opportunity, to build a bridge from the furlough scheme and unemployment benefits to green jobs and a fairer society.”

Workers also fear that the coronavirus recession will be worse than the 2008 financial crash, the report found. 

The poll also suggested widespread public support for giving carers, cashiers and delivery drivers a pay rise while supporting taxing the wealthy more.

Unite, which represents millions of workers in a large number of sectors, said the survey “lays bare the realities of ever growing poverty and debt” for millions across the economy.

The union’s assistant general secretary for manufacturing Steve Turner told the Star: “Disproportionately impacting on the most vulnerable, poorest and minority communities, like poverty itself –death from Covid-19 is a class issue and requires a new economy; a new politics to see us through it. 
 
“Millions of jobs are now at risk across the economy, and although the jobs cliff edge may have moved with employers being asked to pay their fair share towards wage protection from August, many will simply throw loyal workers under the bus rather than put their hands in their pockets.”

Mr Turner said there is now an urgency to the union’s calls for a National Council for Recovery to develop a strategic plan and vision for a fairer, greener economy. 

This would “[reshape] our industrial heartlands to meet the challenges of the climate emergency, alongside a comprehensive jobs creation programme to support our regions and communities, as well as the needs of class and the planet,” he added.

The report also found that raises to the National Living Wage have not stopped in-work poverty from increasing.

Class is calling for a major welfare reform, raising UC to the level of the Real Living Wage, and for a minimum income guarantee.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady wrote in the foreword of the report that the survey brings the “voices of working people to the fore.

“They tell of how stressful life is on low wages and with insecure work,” she said. “And life has become harder still in the Covid-19 crisis – especially for those on the front line.”

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