Fri 20 Mar, 2020

The public health emergency we find ourselves in cannot be allowed to widen inequality, deepen poverty and make people destitute Patrick Harvie

The UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced plans to pay 80% of wages for employees unable to work due the coronavirus pandemic.

Responding, Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “These measures from the UK Government are unfamiliar territory for the Conservatives, and should be welcomed as a recognition of the duty of care the state has for its citizens. If it had been done ten days ago, thousands of jobs would have been saved.

“This package of support will prove to be very helpful to people with jobs who fear losing them, but the support for people who've already lost work, and for the self-employed and gig workers, must be raised to the same level. Whatever we do, it's still likely people will come out the other side of this crisis with huge personal debts. There must be a long-term commitment from governments to write this off.

“I still have concerns about the private rented sector. 30% of market rent is just not enough to protect people from becoming homeless. People need a complete rent holiday at this time, as has been implemented in other countries. Similarly, a £7bn increase in welfare spending is a fraction of the cuts social security has seen in the last decade.

“Support for people should be universal. The public health emergency we find ourselves in cannot be allowed to widen inequality, deepen poverty and make people destitute. I’m convinced only a Universal Basic Income can prevent anyone falling through the cracks.”

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