Labour calls for cross-party talks on six-month economic support plan


Labour has called for Chancellor Rishi Sunak to engage in cross-party talks to produce a six-month economic support plan to guide the country through coronavirus.

Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds said the Treasury should “stop the last-minute scramble” and combine with opposition leaders, businesses and unions to draw up a long-term strategy.

Ms Dodds has written to her Government counterpart after he announced on Saturday that, to coincide with the second national lockdown for England, the furlough scheme would continue in its current form, paying 80% of employees’ wages for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.

In her letter to Mr Sunak, she said the announcement “just hours before” the initial furlough scheme was due to end was “symptomatic” of what she said appeared to be a “lack of any strategic planning by the Government to support jobs and businesses”.

Ms Dodds accused the Cabinet minister of taking a “short-sighted approach” that had made “a bad situation worse”.

She said: “The Chancellor’s stubborn refusal to address problems of his own making until the last possible minute is risking lives, costing jobs and causing chaos in the middle of a pandemic.

“Businesses need certainty if we’re to avoid a 1980s-style jobs crisis, not endless chopping and changing by a Chancellor who is always playing catch-up.

“The Chancellor must stop this last-minute scramble and use the moment of a national lockdown to set out a proper, strategic plan for the next six months that gives workers and businesses the certainty they need.”