Daisy Cooper

Extend support to protect local jobs, warns St Albans MP

Daisy Cooper is urging the Government to bring forward bespoke packages of support for key sectors, such as hospitality, or face a surge in job losses in St Albans.

The Liberal Democrat MP for St Albans warns that thousands of families face “financial uncertainty” and is calling for the Government to do more.

According to government statistics for May, the number of people claiming unemployment benefit in St Albans has more than doubled since lockdown began in March, with 3,005 actual claimants, an increase of 1,815 on March and 1,045 since April. Of those, there were 455 aged 18 to 24, equivalent to 15% of the total.
Other data showed that 10,600 people in St Albans have benefited from the job retention scheme to the end of May, out of a working-age population of 61,814. They also show a further 3,700 are receiving financial support through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, following a successful campaign by the Liberal Democrats to extend the original scheme by a further three months.

That means that more than one in four St Albans residents are currently using the furlough scheme, the self-employed scheme or receiving unemployment benefit.

Daisy Cooper points out that many self-employed people are still excluded from this support, including those who became self-employed since April 2019, and is calling on the Government to expand the scheme to cover them too.

Daisy Cooper said:
“The coronavirus crisis is leaving thousands of families facing financial uncertainty. Further financial support must be agreed to ensure no one is left behind.

“There must be an increase in statutory sick pay to £220 a week to ensure everyone who needs to self-isolate can, knowing that they don’t have to choose between their health and their income.

“Also, the furlough scheme continues to be a lifeline for many, but I worry what will happen to people here in St Albans who rely on furlough support if it ends before it’s safe to go back to work, or when businesses need to re-open below capacity or in a phased way.

“And ministers must extend support to the millions of people who are still excluded from the existing schemes, such as ’no rights employees’ – freelances who are taxed at source like an employee but who currently receive no financial support at all, and those who recently became self-employed, and those between jobs and more.

“The big danger is that many parts of our economy will simply not be back up to speed by October. The Government must bring forward bespoke packages of support for the industries most affected, to save jobs and prevent mass unemployment.”