Starmer says statutory sick pay should be trebled to match the real living wage.

The Labour leadership frontrunner Keir Starmer has called on the government to introduce a national Income Guarantee Scheme.

As workers face mounting uncertainty due to the impact of coronavirus, Starmer said the government needed to do more.

Under the proposals being put forward by Starmer:

  • Government-backed loans would be “tied into an agreement with individual businesses about job protection”, placing conditions on the support offered
  • The government would introduce a “wage subsidy initiative” that would see businesses affected by coronavirus-related job losses directly subsidised
  • Statutory sick pay would be trebled to match the real living wage, and changed to cover “everyone who needs it, including the self-employed”
  • Ministers would “strengthen and expand the social security system at the earliest opportunity”.

Starmer said: “Millions of people are already feeling the impact of the economic shock caused by the coronavirus. We have all heard tragic stories of people expecting to be laid off work or see their incomes fall.

“Days into this crisis ministers are still several steps behind where they need to be in order to reassure people facing a loss of income. Other countries across the world, such as Denmark, have shown what actions government can take to protect people’s incomes.

“The proposals I am setting out today would provide essential reassurance to people that their wages would be guaranteed during this crisis. Businesses would be incentivised to protect jobs, incomes would be protected and the social security system would be strengthened.

“These proposals are bold, but necessary. We are potentially days away from further social-distancing measures that will change British life. It is imperative that the government acts to support workers to buy food, pay the bills and cover the cost of living.

“I urge ministers to give these proposals serious consideration and to work with businesses and trade unions to ensure families are given the help they need.”