Sunday 20 December 2020 / 4:08 PM Anneliese Dodds / Economy

‘Where’s the Chancellor?’ Labour calls on Sunak to set out economic support as restrictions tighten

Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, Anneliese Dodds, has called on Rishi Sunak to “come out of hiding” and make clear what economic support will be available for workers and businesses following the Prime Minister’s announcement of further restrictions yesterday.

The Chancellor has not made any public statement – in the press or on social media – about economic support since the Prime Minister’s last-minute cancellation of Christmas plans and introduction of new ‘Tier 4’ restrictions for London and large parts of the South East. Yet these new measures will have significant impact on cash-strapped businesses already struggling after 9 months of the pandemic.

The Chancellor also hasn’t appeared in parliament for nearly three weeks. In that time, significant changes have been made to Covid-19 restrictions and major developments have taken place in planning for the end of the Brexit transition period.

Dodds has said her “absent” counterpart should make a public statement as soon as possible on the situation facing the UK economy, and in particular:

Use the £2 billion handed back to the Treasury by supermarkets and other large shops to help hard-hit hospitality businesses and those who have been excluded from support

Amend the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme so people who have got new jobs since October 31st and are now at risk of losing them can be placed on furlough

Reform the one-off £20-a-head business support payment so that areas that have been in tougher restrictions for longer get more support

Extend the eligibility and improve the delivery of the £500 Test and Trace Support Payment so that people on low incomes are supported to self-isolate

Anneliese Dodds, Shadow Chancellor, said:

“This last-minute announcement will have plunged many businesses into chaos. Yet in these difficult times the Chancellor is nowhere to be seen.

“Rishi Sunak was happy to put his name all over government policy when it suited him, but now he’s totally absent. He must come out of hiding and give workers and businesses the certainty and support they deserve.

“Labour has called throughout this crisis for economic support to go hand in hand with new restrictions, but yet again the Chancellor has left businesses in the dark. British businesses deserve better than this.”