Tuesday 15 September 2020 7:38 am

Coronavirus: Keir Starmer to call for furlough scheme replacement

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer will today urge the government to replace the furlough scheme to avoid the “scarring effect” of mass unemployment.

The government’s job retention scheme has been used by more than 10m workers since its launch in March, but is set to end on 31 October.

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Speaking to the Trades Union Congress (TUC) annual conference, Starmer will argue that the scheme should be replaced by an alternative job protection package.

The Labour leader is also set to propose targeted support for badly-hit sectors, the BBC reported.

The government has resisted calls to extend the furlough scheme, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson arguing that doing so would keep people in “suspended animation”.

But Starmer is expected to argue that “with a bit of imagination and acting in the national interest, a better approach is possible”.

The Labour leader’s alternative proposals include expanding part-time working, rewarding employers that do not cut jobs and providing support to workers who cannot return to work full-time.

He will also suggest additional support for struggling sectors such as retail and aviation, as well as targeting support for areas hit by local lockdowns.

“Imagine how powerful it would be if we could form a genuine national plan to protect jobs, create new ones and investing in skills and training,” he is due to say.

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“I’m making an open offer to the prime minister: Work with us to keep millions of people in work, work with the trade unions and work with businesses, do everything possible to protect jobs and to deliver for working people.”

The government said it already had plans in place to protect jobs, including the £2bn kickstart scheme and the job retention bonus.