6 October 2020
What is Talking Points?
Cambridge News asks a representative of each local political party to answer a question on a local issue in just 300 words. The answers are then published in the physical copy of the Cambridge News every fortnight. Here, we share our response to the question.
Today's Question: Do you think the job support scheme that was recently outlined will be an adequate replacement of the furlough scheme?
We welcome measures designed to save jobs but the Government’s Job Support Scheme (JSS) does not go far enough. Rishi Sunak admits that the JSS will only support employees in ‘viable’ jobs. We risk a mass unemployment crisis and the highest numbers ever applying for Universal Credit which, as we have seen already, is failing. We need support for everyone affected by this crisis.
The format of the JSS will shift blame away from the Government and onto the public, as we have seen before during this pandemic. Although it may sound like a replacement for an employee’s wages, employees will still lose a proportion of their income and employers will be forced to make difficult if not impossible decisions: for example, the JSS means that it will be cheaper to keep one employee on 2/3rd hours than two employees on 1/3rd hours each. Ultimately, this is the employer’s decision. However, financially vulnerable businesses will most likely make the financially prudent decision: firing staff. Crucially, the JSS is only planned for the next six months, but this will be a longer-term issue: we need much more than stop-gap solutions.
The furlough scheme and the new JSS fall far short of protecting workers and many will be left in precarious positions. To protect people during the pandemic and to plan for the future, we need a long-term comprehensive economic plan. This should include providing retraining and development to workers to help them move from unsustainable employment into sustainable jobs for the future. The Green Party also proposes a Universal Basic Income that will ensure that everyone in this country can access everything they need to live with dignity. A guaranteed, non-means-tested income, sufficient to cover basic needs and payable to everyone, would provide stability and protection through this crisis and beyond.
Our response was written by Nicola Elliott. Nicola is a co-convenor for the Cambridge Green Party. She moved to Cambridge in 2015 for university and now lives in Abbey, working as an auditor.