The Labour Party recognises the need for urgent government intervention to arrest the spread of this virus and offset the economic impact it is already having on the country.
We must ensure the most effective action is taken to protect people in every community, for reasons of public health as well as social justice, and that is why we believe the following conditions need to be met to secure public support.
1. The legislation must be renewed every six months by a fresh vote in parliament.
People understand the need for temporary restrictions to our way of life. But given how far-reaching these are proposed to be, people’s elected representatives must be able to decide whether to renew the legislation at least every six months, up to its expiration after two years. We will carefully scrutinise the Bill in areas that affect our civil liberties.
2. Jobs and incomes need to be underpinned with a comprehensive income protection scheme; European-level statutory sick pay for all workers from day one; and increased Universal Credit, with a suspension of sanctions and an end to the 5-week wait.
The government must take action to ensure everyone has enough to live on so that those with symptoms are able to self-isolate without fear for their jobs, livelihoods and homes. The government’s current package of support for workers is clearly inadequate.
3. Rent suspension and a ban on evictions for six months.
Rent needs to be suspended for those adversely affected by the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. The government’s three-month ban on evictions should be extended to six months, in line with the renewal period we propose for the emergency legislation.