Confusion in government

November 7, 2020 11:28 AM
Originally published by Babergh South Suffolk Liberal Democrats

msd (Photo by Matthew Brodeur on Unsplash)Amid all the media attention on the nail biting conclusion to the US election you may have noticed the Chancellor made yet another announcement on help in coping with the virus and lock down

What was announced

The Chancellor announced that the government will extend the furlough scheme until March, providing 80 per cent of employees' wages for those unable to work because of companies being forced to close by coronavirus regulations. An income support grant for self-employed people, covering the period November to January, will also increase from the planned 55 per cent to 80 per cent of average profits up to £7,500.

However the planned £1,000 job retention bonus for any furloughed worker kept in a job until February was being postponed to a later date.

The chancellor's U-turn - estimated to cost over £6bn per month - came as England entered a second national lockdown amid a resurgence of the virus.

Our Reaction

We obviously welcome the news of the extension. Lib Dems called for this as part of our plan to tackle to virus impacts back in mid October.

It does raise a number of questions about the competence of the government response however. Why pick an argument with Greater Manchester over a gap of £5m in aid, why send mixed messages to the the devolved administrations who asked if they would receive aid for any lock downs they may call and most importantly why wait until the furlough scheme had ended with some redundancies already announced before making this announcement.

We recognise the current situation is difficult and continually evolving but you cannot escape the feeling that the government has continually been playing catch up over recent weeks

Equally worrying is that the announcements have stayed silent on what is being done to fix track and trace. If the lock down is to be worthwhile we need to come out of it with the system overhauled, more local and effective but there are no improvement plans visible

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

It is deeply frustrating that we must now enter a national lockdown. If Boris Johnson had not dithered and delayed and had instead followed the scientists' advice, this could have been shorter and less damaging.

Now it is essential that Ministers use this time to get a grip on our broken test, trace and isolate system, and ensure people have the practical and financial support to isolate if asked to. Failure to get that right would mean people making yet more sacrifices in vain, further delay in relaxing restrictions, and risks additional lockdowns in the future.

With the festive season just weeks away, the Liberal Democrats will continue to push the UK Government to deliver a plan to ensure rules on travel are aligned across our family of nations. We also need to see real clarity on support for people and businesses in the hard weeks ahead.