Wirral MP calls on government to extend Statutory Sick Pay to low paid workers and increase the level of payments as part of coronavirus response

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18 Mar 2020

Margaret Greenwood MP has called on the government to increase the level of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) and ensure all workers are able to claim, including those on low pay who are not currently eligible.

The Wirral West MP, who is also the Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, was speaking as she opened a debate in the House of Commons which was called by Labour to urgently discuss protection for all workers, including Statutory Sick Pay and social security support, as the coronavirus outbreak worsens.

Labour says that the government’s measures to help workers so far fall way short of what is required in response to the crisis. Currently workers earning less than £118 a week on average do not qualify for SSP and nor do the self-employed, including many people classified as 'self-employed' such as carers, cleaners and delivery drivers. There is a risk that some workers on low income could be faced with a cruel choice between their health and financial hardship if they do not qualify for SSP.

During the debate, Margaret Greenwood also called on the government to:

- ensure that care workers on zero-hour contracts (who make up a quarter of the social care workforce) qualify for full sick pay
- raise the level of social security payments in order to build resilience in people in the face of the virus
- end the five-week wait for a first payment in Universal Credit
- suspend the Minimum Income Floor in Universal Credit for all self-employed people claiming it given that - many will be affected by the impact of the coronavirus crisis on the economy even if they do not become ill or have to self-isolate
- raise the level of new-style Employment and Support Allowance payments
- immediately suspend deductions from social security for anyone who becomes ill or is forced to self-- isolate and consider suspending them for all other claimants
- suspend all sanctions
- do all it can to introduce robust, generous and comprehensive income protection for those whose hours may be cut or who may be asked to take unpaid leave because of the impact of the crisis

Speaking after the debate, Margaret Greenwood MP said:

“This is an international crisis and we need to come together as a country to support each other as the severity of it becomes clearer.

“The Chancellor has announced measures to support business, but he has not yet taken action to directly support to workers on low income. Time is of the essence and he needs to do so as a matter of urgency.

“It is essential that if people need to self-isolate or if they lose their income as a result of Coronavirus, they receive government support. Only this way can we be confident that people will be able to make the right decision and self-isolate if they need to.

“Nearly 2 million people are currently ineligible for Statutory Sick Pay because they don’t earn enough.

“It is vital that the government extends Statutory Sick Pay to all workers, including those on low pay.

“It’s vital too that the government increases the level of Statutory Sick Pay. The current level of £94.25 a week is simply not enough.

“The government must take urgent action to protect those on low incomes so that they can deal with the current situation with confidence in the knowledge they will be able to pay their bills and put food on the table.”

You can watch Margaret Greenwood speaking in the debate via the link below:

https://tinyurl.com/s539vpp 


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