Keir Starmer accused of ‘stoking fears’ with party politics on coronavirus jobs crisis

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In a speech to his party’s Trade Union backers Sir Keir claimed Ministers are not doing enough to support jobs when the furlough scheme comes to an end next month. He warned that communities across the country will face the “scarring effect of mass unemployment” if the Government fails to act. His remarks come despite the state having supported around 9.6 million jobs through the furlough scheme since the country went lockdown in March.

The government has also launched a series of multi-billion pound schemes to create new jobs, especially for the young, in recent weeks.

While Labour has said it accepts the furlough scheme cannot continue indefinitely, Sir Keir said that with “a bit of imagination” the Government could continue to help those most at risk of losing their jobs.

Sir Keir, who is in self-isolation due to a family coronavirus scare and speaking via video-link, also called for an expansion of part-time working – rewarding employers who give people hours rather than cut jobs – and the provision of training and support for those unable to return to work full-time.

“At this moment of national crisis we should take inspiration from our past,” he told the Trades Union Congress.

“Be willing to put party differences aside and work together in the interest of the country.

“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?

“I’m making an open offer to the Prime Minister – work with us to keep millions of people in work.”

But Amanda Milling, the co-chairman of the Conservative Party, said: “Rather than stoking people’s fears about their future, Sir Keir should put politics aside and start supporting the Government.

“While he criticises from the sidelines, this Government is delivering for the people of this country as we build back better from coronavirus.”

A Treasury spokesman said: “We already have a national plan to not only protect jobs, but to create new ones – and we are implementing it right now.

“Thousands of young people will take their first steps into work through our £2 billion Kickstart scheme this autumn and our up to £9 billion Job Retention Bonus will help companies bring those on furlough back to work.”

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