Ian Blackford demands U-turn over Universal Credit and furlough scheme

Ian Blackford has written to Rishi Sunak demanding an urgent U-turn over Universal Credit and the furlough scheme.

Wednesday, 14th October 2020, 7:00 am
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford called for a U-turn on Universal Credit and the furlough scheme
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford called for a U-turn on Universal Credit and the furlough scheme

The SNP Westminster leader is calling for the furlough scheme to be extended to 2021, and demanding the £20 uplift to Universal Credit become permanent.

Writing to the Chancellor, he claimed failing to do so was forcing the UK into "mass unemployment and soaring poverty".He said: "With a second wave of coronavirus hitting the UK, and increased restrictions in place, it is vital that, even at this late stage, the Prime Minister and Chancellor finally see sense and extend financial support to protect people's jobs and incomes.

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"It has been clear for some time that Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak have taken a deliberate decision to let unemployment rise – just as the Tories did under Thatcher in the 1980s.

“If the Tories do withdraw this crucial support, in the middle of a pandemic, they will never be forgiven for the damage they will do.”

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Boris Johnson and Mr Sunak had repeatedly refused to extend the furlough scheme, which saw 80 per cent of people’s wages paid for by the Government.

With the scheme now scrapped, the Chancellor earlier this month unveiled the “next phase” of his economic plan with the “Jobs support scheme”.

Furloughed employees who go back to work for a third of their hours can have their wages subsidised for the next six months.

Mr Blackford has insisted this does not go far enough, repeatedly calling for the measures to be extended, and even asked for financial powers to be devolved.

He explained:"Scotland has been put in the impossible position of responding to this unprecedented crisis at the same time that the Tories have been cutting back support, and deliberately blocking the devolution of the financial powers the Scottish Parliament needs to protect our economy.

"The Tory government must think again – stop the cuts to universal credit, extend the furlough scheme, and devolve financial powers to the Scottish Parliament.”

His letter comes one day on from the Office for National Statistics revealing that the UK unemployment rate grew to a three year high of 4.5 per cent in the three months to August.

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