Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak has just announced that he will extend the 80% furlough scheme, along with the associated support for the self-employed, to the end of March next year. It’s about time, but when it was always inevitable that anti-coronavirus measures were going to continue to cost jobs and livelihoods, why has he delayed so long?
Jobs have been lost because of the winding down of the original furlough scheme – which Sunak only created in the first place because pressure from unions forced him to abandon his original plan to inject cash directly into corporate bank accounts with no conditions on protecting workers – and many small businesses have given up the ghost and shut down because there seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel. Those businesses and jobs will not come back and those made unemployed will qualify only for the pittance of Universal Credit.
His boss Boris Johnson’s constant slowness to act has cost tens of thousands of lives. Sunak’s constant delays in doing what anyone could have told him was inevitable have cost many thousands of livelihoods, helping to plunge the UK into one of the worst coronavirus-driven economic crises in the developed world.
Sunak’s media allies will no doubt milk every drop of fake credit from this latest measure – but being far too slow to do what was always obvious is inexcusable and the extension is a tacit and again far too late admission of the Tories’ guilt in their atrocious response to the pandemic.
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