Thursday 9 April 2020 / 6:48 PM Anneliese Dodds

Labour urges the Government to prioritise supporting jobs and incomes in letter to the Chancellor

Anneliese Dodds MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, has written to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak to offer to work constructively with the Chancellor to “prevent further damage to jobs and incomes” and “provide the public and businesses with the support they need.” The letter follows a meeting between Dodds and the Chancellor, where she highlighted the imperative for the Government’s schemes to reach those who need them.

The Shadow Chancellor highlighted concerns about some employers failing to furlough employees, and the apparently low take-up of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme – both critical to sustaining employment and preventing longer-term economic impacts.

Dodds also called on the Government to increase international coordination on measures such as preventing widespread bankruptcies and damaging barriers to trade”.

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Notes to editors

> Download a copy of the letter

Full text of the letter reads:

Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP
Chancellor to the Exchequer
1 Horse Guards Road
London
SW1A 2HQ
9th April 2020
Dear Chancellor,

I am writing to you following my appointment as Labour’s Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer and our first meeting this afternoon. Given the turbulent times we find ourselves in I am keen to work with your team to provide the public and businesses with the support they need.

It is now becoming clear that problems with the design and performance of many of the existing programmes are reducing their take-up. The efficacy of these programmes will be essential to the impact of the crisis on jobs and incomes.

I am deeply concerned that many employers are not adopting the Job Retention Scheme and are instead terminating workers’ employment. This is not helped by a lack of fulsome guidance and the delay in implementing the scheme, particularly in comparison with other European countries. An immediate priority for Government must be to increase uptake by making it clear to employers not just that the Scheme is available to them but that they must make use of it wherever feasible.

There are also significant issues with the Business Interruption Loan Scheme, even after adjustments were made last week. It is imperative that take-up of the scheme amongst small businesses is increased. This requires more Government direction and intervention than has occurred heretofore.

There are also of course issues with the coverage of the SEISS scheme for the self-employed, and with the scope, level and delivery of Universal Credit. I have set out detailed questions on both, as well as on the Job Retention and Business Interruption Loan Schemes, in the annexe to this letter.

Finally, international coordination needs to be rapidly increased with your Department leading on extensive coordination with the IMF and with EU policy-makers – on measures to promote liquidity, prevent widespread bankruptcies and potential international contagion, coordinate demand-promoting fiscal measures (where feasible), and prevent damaging barriers to trade.

I look forward to continuing to work with you to address these issues to try to prevent further damage to jobs and incomes in the short and medium term as well as discussing our exit strategy from the current lockdown. I hope we can meet again, ideally within the next fortnight so before the next pay day, which is a natural watershed for many businesses.

Yours sincerely,

Anneliese Dodds MP
Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer