18 August 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: is the Government's plan to end the coronavirus job retention scheme this autumn a mistake?
It took the COVID-19 global crisis for the government to put aside its broken record on austerity and invest public money into protecting its citizens.
The coronavirus job retention scheme has prevented an immense surge in unemployment following lockdown. Still, the number of people in work is at its lowest in the UK since the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash, with the youngest and oldest workers among the worst hit, alongside those in manual occupations (1). A threatening recession is looming (2). Removing support now is a mistake.
The rush to end the furlough scheme sounds like a call to get back to normal - ‘business as usual’ - as soon as possible. We cannot afford to take this step back. When the coronavirus crisis ends – and may it end soon – we will still face crises. Social care and climate change must be at the forefront of every discussion regarding the economy, including jobs.
Instead of removing support, we need to extend it. We know people have fallen through the cracks of the furlough scheme and universal credit (3). No one should have to struggle to live decently. We need a universal basic income, to protect everyone (4).
Education and training must be prioritised to support the transition towards a green economy and make sure no-one is left behind. This takes planning, and the Green Party has a plan: a Green New Deal (5).
We cannot go back to a job market that feeds inequality and leaves so many people marginalised. We cannot ignore climate breakdown. Instead, we must transition, now, towards a fairer society that protects its citizens while tackling the climate emergency.
Our response was written by Simon Baron. Simon is the joint Election Campaign Officer for the Cambridge Green Party, and a teacher of modern languages in a secondary school in Cambridge.