‘Plan for the worst!’ Martin Lewis in urgent warning to Britons over post-COVID economy

Speaking on LBC radio on Monday evening, the finance expert said that he does not envisage the Government making any changes to its coronavirus support schemes despite campaigners fighting for the furlough provisions to be extended to those who had fallen through the cracks of the system. Martin Lewis warned: “The conversations I’ve had have been about practical support and the Government has been receptive at pushing the guidelines but it’s never been receptive at changing the policy.

“I think there’s something that makes you look at this and say perhaps the concept here was these support schemes were put in place to rescue the economy.

“And once you think you’re at the critical map of rescuing the economy and allowing things to bounce back afterwards, then actually there is a perhaps a point where they have said we will have to accept the collateral damage of those people who were excluded because we don’t need to do that extra support to rescue the economy.

“Now that is an uncharitable reading but somewhat struggling in any other reading.

“I’ve done private background briefings to MPs of all parties on this, many of whom are very concerned.

“But we’ve seen an absolute rigidity from the Government of the money that’s being paid out and nothing more is going to change.

“And those in the campaign groups who are doing a great job and I support, they should continue to campaign on this but at the same time they need to hope for the best and absolutely plan for the worst.”

Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds has warned that mass unemployment could have a “scarring impact on our country for decades” if the Government cannot adapt the furlough scheme for different industries instead of pursuing a “one size fits all approach”.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain, she said: “If we look at what other countries are doing, and what the evidence tells us, that first step of stopping people becoming unemployed in the first place is absolutely critical.

“Once people have become unemployed, that has a scarring impact on them and on our country for decades into the future.

“So what I’m saying to the Government, and I’ve offered this in the spirit of constructive opposition many times, I’ve said to them, please, shift course, do not continue to have this one size fits all approach, because that will inevitably lead to much greater unemployment in the future.”

Ms Dodds recommended keeping young people in education and training for longer to “keep them out of that pool of unemployed people,” and better supporting those who become unemployed using previously used strategies like the Future Jobs Fund.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said the Government urgently needs to introduce a July budget as part of its “duty” to the people who have lost their jobs amid the pandemic.

Speaking on Sky News on Monday, he said: “I am concerned that there should be a July budget because we’re living through a health crisis, we’ve got an economic crisis coming right up alongside it, and we’re likely to see unemployment the like of which we’ve haven’t seen for a generation.

“And I think the Government should be putting forward a budget in July setting out precisely how it’s going to ensure that as many jobs are preserved as possible.”

The Labour leader added: “Any budget in July has to focus on jobs, jobs, jobs. If we go to two or three million people unemployed, that’s going to be so damaging for so many families and for our economy.”

Sir Keir said he would bring infrastructure projects forward in the budget, extend the furlough scheme to save jobs in the most hard-hit industries like the hospitality sector, and create a “future jobs fund” to help those made unemployed get back into the workforce “as quickly as possible”.

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The Government’s furlough scheme has been effective in helping workers in lower-income areas of the UK, a new study suggests.

Business advisers Moore said employees in areas of the country with the highest use of the furlough scheme receive an average weekly wage of £576, compared with £717 for areas receiving the least support.

Areas with the highest number of workers on furlough, receiving an average of £576 a week, include parts of London, Blackpool South, Crawley, Walsall and Glasgow East, said the report.

Parts of the country with the lowest take-up include Cambridge, Wimbledon, Twickenham and Sutton Coldfield, according to the study.

The retail and leisure sectors, including pubs, have been hardest-hit by COVID-19 and most in need of the furlough, said the report.

Other areas with the highest use of the scheme include Ealing, Southall and Feltham & Heston – close to Heathrow Airport where many thousands of workers have been furloughed by airlines and the airport itself.

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