Coronavirus: Labour demands Boris increase sick pay and defer rent payments

14 March 2020, 22:20

21 people in the UK have now died after testing positive for Covid-19
21 people in the UK have now died after testing positive for Covid-19. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Jeremy Corbyn has written to the PM to demand new laws be brought in to help halt the spread of Covid-19 and dramatically increase sick pay and protections for workers in the gig economy.

Jeremy Corbyn has written a letter to the Prime Minister as ten more patients have died in England after testing positive for coronavirus, while the number of infected rose from 798.

The Opposition leader wrote to Boris Johnson ahead of the publication of expected legislation which is hoped to be fast-tracked through Parliament.

The Labour leader also called for measures to allow the deferral of rent and mortgage payments for people who cannot work.
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Mr Corbyn also called on the PM to be more transparent about the "scientific and behavioural evidence and modelling" that was guiding the Government's response to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Calling for a meeting with the Prime Minister, Mr Corbyn said: "This crisis demands political as well as scientific judgments and clearer public communication based on greater transparency of scientific and behavioural evidence and modelling than has been provided to date.

"The public are rightly seeking a much higher level of explanation and transparency as to the course of action being taken, including whether more far-reaching measures, as taken in other comparable states, could be necessary."

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Mr Corbyn called for the legislation to include a financial package to protect and support the most vulnerable and for the Bill to be subject to an equality impact assessment.

He called for the £94.25 a week statutory sick pay to be raised in line with the amounts paid in other European countries with similar economies.

Other measures called for by Mr Corbyn include full sick pay and lost earnings protection for all workers, no matter what form of employment they have, during self-isolation or illness.

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He also called on ministers to remove the requirement to present for Universal Credit interviews in all cases, immediately suspend sanctions and reduce the waiting time of five weeks for the first payment of the benefit.

Mr Corbyn also demanded support for local authorities working with food banks in the purchase and distribution of supplies.

"In the light of the scale of the crisis, the Government should bring forward a package of emergency financial security measures to give people the security and confidence they need to follow public health advice as part of our collective national endeavour," he said.