The SNP has welcomed the extension of the furlough scheme but renewed calls for Boris Johnson to go further – after a welfare expert warned that the UK is on course for a “perfect storm of awfulness” that will see rising homelessness, hungry children and struggling families unable to cope unless action is taken.
The SNP’s Depute Westminster Leader, Kirsten Oswald MP (pictured), has called on the UK government to strengthen social security support by extending the furlough scheme into 2021, making the Universal Credit uplift permanent and extending it to legacy benefits, and keeping the Minimum Income Floor (MIF) suspension in Universal Credit beyond 13th November to prevent a further blow for self-employed workers.
The call comes after a series of warnings, including from Dame Louise Casey, a former homelessness adviser to the UK government, who warned that a series of economic pressures were in danger of colliding, and the head of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Carolyn Fairbairn who said a strong safety net was going to be “absolutely vital” in the months ahead.
It also follows reports that the numbers claiming unemployment benefits in Scotland has doubled during the Coronavirus crisis and that the number of jobs being advertised has drastically fallen, with 1000 Scots chasing one job.
Commenting, Kirsten Oswald MP said:
“If Boris Johnson won’t listen to the SNP then he must heed the warnings of his own former homelessness adviser and the CBI boss – who have said the UK faces a bleak winter if the Tories do not rethink current support for the most vulnerable.
“The SNP welcomes the UK government’s decision to extend the furlough scheme for the duration of the national lockdown in England – but it must go further and extend the scheme fully into 2021, as well as commit to extending the MIF and making the Universal Credit uplift permanent and rolling it out to legacy benefits, if we are to properly support families and protect livelihoods.
“And the Tory government must commit to this now to stop the uncertainty and stress for millions who are finding it impossible to plan with the UK government’s sporadic decisions and U-turns. People cannot continue to live their lives like this.
“If the Tories fail to act, the responsibility for inflicting mass unemployment and hardship on millions of people will lie squarely at their feet.
“Sadly, for many families it is already too late. Tory cuts have already led to thousands of redundancies and slashed incomes for millions of households.
“Boris Johnson must act now – he must extend the furlough scheme into 2021, stop the cuts to universal credit, and devolve financial powers to the Scottish Parliament. People’s livelihoods depend upon it.”