Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has called for the government to “put families first” during this Covid lockdown by extending paid flexible furlough to all working parents, while also calling for the UK’s weekly vaccine target to be doubled to 4m.
The Labour leader called for a round the clock vaccine programme, which would see jabs administered 24/7, however a Downing Street spokesperson today that this would not be done as there is “not a clamour for jabs after 8pm”.
Starmer said the government should “deliver even more and double” its 2m vaccines-a-week target by February.
“Thanks to our brilliant scientists, we were the first country in the world to get the vaccine,” he said.
“Let’s be the first in the world to get our country vaccinated.”
Starmer used the major address to promote Labour as the new party of the family, while also calling for more support for UK businesses as the country begins its economic recovery in the coming months.
He called for a guarantee that Universal Credit will not be cut, a U-turn on the government’s effective council tax rise, an extension of the eviction ban past next month and a pay rise for all key workers.
“Family has always been incredibly important to me,” Starmer said.
“It meant everything to my parents that I was able to get on, to go into law and to lead a public service – the Crown Prosecution Service.
“So when I think of the economy, I think about how it affects families, people worried about paying the bills, covering childcare, or coping with insecure work.”
Labour is calling for the creation of 400,000 jobs in low carbon sectors through government investment, a “high street fightback fund” to invest in bricks and mortar retail and for increased support for self-employed people during this lockdown.
The speech was given in front of a new slogan for Labour: “Secure our economy, protect our NHS, rebuild our country.”
“When we come out of this crisis I want Britain to be the best country to do business in – high-tech, high-skilled, high-paid and looking to the future,” Starmer said.
“Building in Britain – and trading with the world.
“But if we’re to do that, the Government needs to protect British businesses – and to protect people’s jobs now.”
Starmer’s call for a government U-turn on council tax comes after the government freed up local authorities to hike the tax by up to five per cent last November.
However, it also comes just days after Labour mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he was increasing council tax by 10 per cent to help pay for public services as City Hall faces a large budget blackhole due to Covid-19.