Martin Lewis grills Rishi Sunak over SEISS timetable
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Martin Lewis grilled Rishi Sunak today on The Martin Lewis Money Show, Live on ITV at 8.30pm tonight, with the Money Saving Expert putting the public’s concerns to the Chancellor. Much of the discussion revolved around SEISS eligibility but at one point, Martin was forced to interrupt to address problems with the furlough scheme.
Martin pushed Mr Sunak to take action on furlough issues: “Just briefly Chancellor, furlough.
“In many ways, you’ve subcontracted the welfare state to companies in the form of furlough and there are many people out there whose companies are doing great jobs but others where they’re not playing ball and people don’t feel like they’re being treated fairly.
“What would you have to say to companies and the individual when someone’s been left out in the lurch because the firm won’t furlough them correctly?
In response to this, the Chancellor had the following to say: “Well I’d urge all companies to try and act compassionately to their employees through a difficult time and I know huge numbers have done and I’ve met lots of them and people who have benefited from their jobs being saved.
“But ultimately we’ve made the scheme pretty much as generous as we can and if you look at similar schemes internationally, ours I think really does stand as generous to the employer, generous to the employee, generous in how it works but ultimately that has to be a decision for the company.
“It wouldn’t be right for the Government or indeed the employee to decide whether they’re being furloughed and getting paid by the government.
“I think everyone appreciates that would throw up some unintended consequences.”
In yesterday’s Budget, Rishi Sunak extended the furlough scheme into September, as the Chancellor declared that the Government’s goal was to “protect the jobs and livelihoods of the British people through the remaining phase of this crisis.”
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Mr Sunak continued: “First, the furlough scheme will be extended until the end of September.
“For employees, there will be no change to the terms – they will continue to receive 80 percent of their salary, for hours not worked, until the scheme ends.
“As businesses reopen, we’ll ask them to contribute alongside the taxpayer to the cost of paying their employees.
“Nothing will change until July, when we will ask for a small contribution of just 10 percent and 20 percent in August and September.
“The Government is proud of the furlough – one of the most generous schemes in the world, effectively protecting millions of people’s jobs and incomes.”
In a policy paper published by the Government following the Budget, the state acknowledged that despite their best efforts, economic damage remains.
The furlough scheme specifically was addressed: “COVID-19 has disrupted livelihoods and prevented many people from working. In spring 2020, the number of advertised vacancies fell.
“Redundancies subsequently rose to a record high and vacancies have remained low.
“Exceptional support through the government’s Plan for Jobs has helped prevent many more job losses, with 11.2 million jobs furloughed across the UK between March 2020 and February 15, 2021.
“However, it has not been possible to save every job.
“The number of people on company payrolls fell by 882,000 between February and November 2020. By the end of last year, the unemployment rate had risen to 5.1 percent.”
Within the Chancellor’s speech, the economic damage created by coronavirus was addressed and Mr Sunak warned public spending would have to be covered at some point: “This Budget is not the time to set detailed fiscal rules, with precise targets and dates to achieve them by – I don’t believe that would be sensible.
“But I do want to be honest about what I mean by sustainable public finances, and how I plan to achieve them. Our fiscal decisions are guided by three principles.
“First, while it is right to help people and businesses through an acute crisis like this one, in normal times the state should not be borrowing to pay for everyday public spending.
“Second, over the medium term, we cannot allow our debt to keep rising, and, given how high our debt now is, we need to pay close attention to its affordability.
“And third, it is sensible to take advantage of lower interest rates to invest in capital projects that can drive our future growth.”
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