Throughout this terrible disease, people have not only faced heartbreaking loss of life, but also crushing anxiety over their livelihoods.
Lockdown has been necessary to prevent an even greater catastrophe, but the economic shutdown has thrown millions of people into financial hardship.
Liberal Democrats have been fighting to make sure people do not feel left behind as the country slowly recovers. We cannot allow this to create a new wave of inequality in Britain; the damage done to businesses and jobs falls harder on some than others.
Here’s how we’ve been fighting to ensure no one is left behind.
1. Pushing the Government to help the self employed
Back in March, as the Government announced its financial support plans for businesses and employees, there was one group of workers that was conspicuously left out: the self-employed.
Over five million people – cleaners, taxi drivers, hairdressers, builders – all of these people faced tremendous uncertainty with the lockdown, but were not initially included in Rishi Sunak’s plans. We spoke out and pushed the Government to go further.
A key Liberal Democrat amendment to the emergency #CoronavirusBill could help support 5 million self-employed people through this national emergency.
We urge the Government to ensure that no-one is forgotten as this crisis continues.https://t.co/qwLcXJJL84
— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) March 24, 2020
It worked. The Government expanded their offer, and we urged them to move even quicker to ensure that these people had enough to get by throughout the hardest period of lockdown.
2. Fighting for the furlough scheme to be extended
In early May, Rishi Sunak suggested he was hoping to “wind down” the furlough scheme in the coming weeks.
The furlough scheme has been a lifeline for millions of people this year whose employers were shut down or suffering dramatic loss of business.
In fact, it is estimated that the furlough scheme covered around a quarter of all jobs. The fact is that the scheme prevented even greater numbers of redundancies than we have seen – it has been essential in preventing cruel mass unemployment. Yet Rishi Sunak wanted to wind it down prematurely.
That’s why we spoke out against his plans and launched our “Safe to Return to Work” scheme that would give people that time and that confidence and help avoid further large-scale job losses.
3. Speaking up for the hardest-hit sectors
The economic turmoil of COVID-19 has not been felt equally across all sectors. That’s why we’ve spoken out for those who are feeling the pinch the hardest.
Take the creative industries.
We enjoy a world-leading creative sector, but without additional support they risk emerging smaller, weaker and with lasting damage.
That’s why in July Daisy Cooper called for a package of support to reinvigorate creative industries. Daisy’s plan, Power of Creativity: Recovery and Renewal, pushed the Government to take ambitious action to address the specific needs of a vulnerable sector.
4. Standing up for the 3m Excluded
We have heard too many heart-breaking stories from those who have lost their livelihoods as a result of coronavirus and are excluded from the Government’s support
Jamie Stone MP
Even now, there are too many people not receiving the help they need.
There are still around 3 million people who are not currently covered by the Government’s support.
New starters, newly self-employed people and freelancers all face difficulty getting the help they need.
But these people cannot be left behind as our economy begins to recover – that’s why we’re campaigning hard to get the Government to go further for the 3 million excluded.
Jamie Stone led the creation of an All-Party Parliamentary Group dedicated to helping these people, and as a party we’re going to keep pushing the Government to take action to support these people
5. Calling for an extension of the Brexit transition period
Instead of acting in the national interest, Conservative Ministers have been content to drive the UK towards a disastrous Brexit in the midst of a pandemic.
Refusing to extend the Brexit transition period not only threatens our vital medical supplies during this crisis, but also risks a huge economic hit.
Liberal Democrats have been speaking out against this reckless behaviour from the Government, calling for an extension of the Brexit transition period in order to protect jobs in Britain for those only just recovering from lockdown.