Rebecca Long-Bailey: Government must ‘take clear action’

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey has called on the government to provide more clarity “very, very urgently” over its newly imposed coronavirus lockdown.

The Labour MP said more needs to be done to make clear which types of work are deemed “essential”, as well all urging more help for the self-employed.

Boris Johnson’s unprecedented steps to tackle coronavirus mean that people cannot leave their homes other than to buy food, receive or give care, exercise once a day or go to work when absolutely essential.

But Ms Long-Bailey, who agreed that the Prime Minister was “right” to take such action, joined others in questioning the ambiguities of the new policy.

She told talkRADIO’s Mike Graham: “There’s been confusion in the last 24 hours about what essential work actually is.

“Any non-essential work shouldn’t be taking place today, we shouldn't be forcing workers to go out to work places that aren’t providing a function that's necessary to keep the country going in this crisis.”

WATCH: Rebecca Long-Bailey says £94 per week is "not enough to live on"

She said the government must “take clear action” in telling employers whether they should be asking their employees to got to work.

“It shouldn't be up to bad bosses to decide who comes in and who doesn’t, there needs to be clear direction from government about what an essential function actually is.”

The Salford and Eccles MP went on to urge the Chancellor to “urgently” provide more assurance to self-employed workers.

“They’ll be worried about whether they can make ends meet or not or they have to make that choice between putting their health at risk or not having an income and that shouldn’t happen,” she said.

Those who work for themselves are currently entitled to £94 of statutory sick pay per week, which Ms Long-Bailey said is “not good enough”.

Meanwhile, the leadership hopeful acknowledged that while the contest to take over from Jeremy Corbyn was still going ahead, assisting the government in fighting coronavirus was “more important”.

Read more:

Julia Hartley-Brewer seeks lockdown clarity from Michael Gove

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