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Response to Chancellor’s COVID19 jobs support announcement

20th March 2020

Responding to the Chancellor’s announcement of new support for workers, Roy Rickhuss, General Secretary of Community said:

“Workers and employers will have some of their worries eased on hearing today’s government measures to protect incomes and jobs during the difficult months ahead.

“Many responsible employers we work with want to do all they can to support and keep their workforce, and this announcement will go a long way to enable them to continue their employment and keep their businesses going.

“The announcement of the Coronavirus job retention scheme will have a significant impact with grants covering 80% of median wages for employees not working, up to £2,500 a month, and backdated to the 1st March.

“Many members across our sectors who are already struggling due to the impacts of Covid-19 have been waiting for essential direct government support to ensure they can keep paying their bills and support their families.

“But the test will be getting this support to workers as soon as practically possible. For those workers who have already experienced redundancies, lay-offs and whose incomes have dried up, we hope this is not too late to rescue them from potential poverty.

“We are also concerned that the support for the self-employed does not go far enough. Many of those workers are self-isolating or are off work with illness, and their incomes and work have dried up. Being able to access Universal Credit at a rate of statutory sick pay for employees will only go so far. The 5 million self-employed need wider income protections and the government must urgently support them.

“We will continue to make representations in the best interests of our members and their families both to employers and to government. There will be more challenges to come.

“Throughout the next few weeks and months we hope government will continue to work with unions and businesses in tackling the crisis. We said from the outset that everyone needs to work together constructively to get through this. Today’s announcement shows what can be achieved when government listens to unions and employers and then takes action.”