The chancellor Rishi Sunak has told BBC Breakfast the government’s support plan is one of the “most comprehensive and generous set of interventions” in the world, but acknowledged some people would still be badly affected.
After outlining the schemes announced on Wednesday, Sunak said:
The analysis we published yesterday which shows the totality of what we’ve done demonstrates very clearly that the lowest income households are the ones who have been supported the most by everything we have done but I would acknowledge that this has been a period of extreme hardship for many people and indeed hardship lies ahead.
Sunak was later asked about self-employed curtain fitter Mark Whittaker, who said he was severely struggling and felt abandoned as he was not eligible for the self-employment support scheme.
The chancellor said the scheme had helped 2.5 million people and later added:
If you’re saying to me there are individual people who are suffering hardship as a result of what’s happened then I completely agree and I sympathise with that, it is not possible to ensure that every single person is not impacted by what’s happening.
We’ve shut our country and economy down for months on end, that is sadly going to have a significant impact and I’ve consistently been honest with people that hardship lies ahead and that’s why we’ve tried to mitigate as much of that hardship as possible.
Are we going to be able to mitigate all of it for every single person? Of course not, but when I look at the totality of what we’ve done, I do know that it stacks up as being one of the most comprehensive and generous set of interventions out of any country in the world.
Despite the focus on eating out on many of the front pages this morning, the real highlight of the chancellor’s statement was the confirmed ending of the furlough scheme in October.
My colleagues Lary Elliott and Heather Stewart report that despite Rishi Sunak’s rescue package and “plan for jobs”, fears of a looming crisis of mass unemployment are visceral.
Len McCluskey, the general secretary of the Unite union, said:
Redundancy notices are already flying around like confetti, so today was the day we needed the chancellor to put a stop to this with policies as bold and as necessary as the jobs retention scheme.
This statement failed that test. With no modification to the JRS, that dreaded October cliff edge for businesses and workers has now been set in stone. Our fear is the summer jobs loss tsunami we have been pleading with the government to avoid will now surely only gather pace.
Here is the moment the chancellor got his orders mixed up while serving customers – and not wearing a face covering – at a Wagamama’s in London.
‘There are difficult times ahead’, chancellor says
The chancellor Rishi Sunak is doing the morning broadcast round this morning, and has just told Sky News that jobs are at risk unless economic activity returns to normal.
We’ve moved through the acute phase of the crisis where large swathes of the economy were closed. We’re now fortunately able to safely reopen parts of our economy, that’s the most important thing that we can do to get things going.
But we won’t know the exact shape of that recovery for a little while – how will people respond to the new freedoms of being able to go out and about again. We have to rediscover behaviours that we’ve essentially unlearned over the last few months.
But unless activity returns to normal, those jobs are at risk of going which is why we acted in the way that we did.
The chancellor also said he was “anxious” about the state of the economy, and that the UK was “entering into a very significant recession”.
We acted at the beginning of this crisis to protect as many businesses and jobs as we could, with initiatives like the furlough scheme and the unprecedented support that we have provided to business.
We did that so that when we emerged from the other side of this crisis we could bounce back as strongly as possible.
Now that we’re there we want to try and make that recovery as strong as it could be, which is why having people out and about, back in restaurants, moving house, renovating homes, installing energy efficiency measures in homes.
Asked if everyone who has been furloughed will go back to work, Sunak said:
No. I’ve been very clear that we are not going to be able to protect every single job and it would be wrong of me to pretend otherwise.
There are going to be difficult times ahead and… there are forecasts for people predicting significant levels of unemployment. That weighs very heavily on me.
Good morning. I’m Lucy Campbell, here to steer you through the latest developments in UK politics and all things coronavirus as the morning unfolds.
Leading the front pages this morning is the “eat out to help out” aspect of the chancellor’s £30bn emergency support package to protect against a coronavirus recession and mass youth unemployment. His summer statement – or mini budget – that he delivered on Wednesday, was packed with giveaways to tempt consumers out of their Covid-19 hibernation and to nurse the country through the pandemic.
Among the freebies, Rishi Sunak pledged £300m to subsidise food, including discounted dining, with VAT reduced from 20% to 5% in the tourism and hospitality sectors, as well as a stamp duty holiday, raising the threshold in England and Northern Ireland to £500,000.
However, while offering relief in the short-term, the papers also point out that we will ultimately all have to pay for these giveaways. The Times (paywall) has worked out that public spending has soared to £189bn to get the economy through the crisis – more than we currently spend on the NHS. Meanwhile, the FT (paywall) has calculated that borrowing of £350bn will be needed this year to pay for everything – pushing the deficit to twice the size it was after 2008 – and that Sunak ultimately faces the challenge of stabilising the public finances when all this is over. “Mr Sunak will not be able to play Santa Claus forever,” an analysis piece reads.
The chancellor is due to have his sums marked by economic experts as they prepare to go over his plans to boost the economy after coronavirus with a fine tooth comb. We expect the IFS’s analysis at 9:30am.
We also expect that more elements of the UK’s economy could be given the green light to reopen.
Please feel free to get in touch with me throughout the morning as I work. Your thoughts, comments and news tips are always welcome!