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Today at Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs), Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn raised the issue of Care Workers who are on zero hour contracts. As the the Labour leader pointed out that 25% of carers in England are on the unpredictable and much criticised contracts, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and new Chancellor Rishi Sunak seemed to find it highly amusing sparking outrage.
With Coronavirus – COVID-19 cases increasing, many people have been talking about what will happen to staff on zero hour contracts. Previously the government’s advice was to apply for Universal Credit. This in itself is unhelpful as they are expecting sick people to go through the application process, not to mention the five week waiting period for their first payment.
At Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs), Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn raised the issue of care workers on zero hour contracts. This is because, as verified by FullFact, 24% of adult social care workers don’t have contracts with defined hours. This means should they become sick, they are not necessarily entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).
PM & Chancellor Laugh It Off
In the Commons Jeremy Corbyn said;
Underpaid care workers
A quarter of them, on zero hours contracts,
Travel from house to house to provide care for elderly and sick people.
As you can see from the clip below, Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak, who was about to deliver his first budget as Chancellor, are seen laughing as Corbyn raises the issue.
Overworked and Underpaid
It has long be recognised that carers in any type of contract are over worked and underpaid. The United Kingdom is an aging country and carers are going to become more and more important. During the 2019 General Election, Boris Johnson promised there would be a “cross party” movement to secure a new Health and Social Care policy. As of yet, it hasn’t even been discussed.
COVID-19 is going to get worse in the UK and beyond, this is an indisputable fact. How bad nobody knows. However, what is known is that care staff along with healthcare professionals are going to be pushed to their limit as they fight to look after a sick population.
For the Prime Minister and Chancellor to laugh at low paid workers, gives the impression that they really don’t care. Johnson has talked about “levelling up” the country, but it seems that it doesn’t everyone.
While the budget did produce some measures to help workers affected by the virus, little to nothing was offered to help those on zero hour contratcs.
They have been told that they can apply for Universal Credit, but as I reported earlier, this brings it’s own problems. Yes they are now allowed to apply fully by telephone, but there is still a five week wait until their first payment. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will say claimants can take an advance, but this is merely a loan and it will reduce the amount paid for up to a year.
Overall, today many people feel that the government haven’t done enough to protect low paid and vulnerable people who will be affected by Coronavirus. Not to mention they have done it without showing any empathy.