Boris Johnson pledges more Covid support than Labour is demanding | Coronavirus

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Boris Johnson has promised that extra Covid financial support in next week’s budget will not be “paltry”, as he refused to rule out tax rises or extending the £500 payment to some people self-isolating.

Johnson denied the claim from the Labour leader, Keir Starmer, at prime minister’s questions that people on lower incomes were “at the bottom of this government’s priorities”.

He said they were, in fact, “the top of the government’s priorities” and hinted parliament would be “hearing more about that” when the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, unveils his tax and spending plans next Wednesday.

Starmer had called for Johnson to extend the £500 payment to those isolating, citing evidence that showed three in 10 people told to do so were not complying because they could not afford to.

He said “small changes” to the policy announced on Monday would not fix the issue – and urged the prime minister to offer the payment to “everyone who needs this”.

Starmer added: “If you need £500 to isolate you’re out of luck, if you’ve got the health secretary’s WhatsApp, you get a million-pound contract” – referencing an acquaintance of Matt Hancock’s being handed work providing millions of vials for NHS coronavirus tests.

He also challenged the prime minister to rule out tax rises for families and businesses.

Johnson declined to, attacking Labour’s 2019 general election manifesto policies on taxation, claiming “prudent fiscal management by this government” had helped steer the UK through the pandemic.

When Starmer said the 3 March budget was a chance to protect families, give key workers a pay rise and back 100,000 new British start-ups, the prime minister insisted: “If he’d only wait until next week I think he’ll find we’ll do far more than that paltry agenda that he’s set out.”

Johnson claimed “he vacillates, we vaccinate”, adding the government would “get on with our agenda – cautious but irreversibly taking this country forward on a one-way road to freedom”, out of lockdown.

Later in PMQs, the SNP MP Stuart McDonald Johnson to “afford some basic dignity” to the 6 million people on universal credit by extending the £20 weekly uplift.

Johnson said: “We will continue to look after people throughout this pandemic and beyond and the best thing we can do across the whole of the country is to bounce our economy back as fast as we can.”

Labour tried to use Johnson’s appeals for people to wait until the budget to paint him as once again moving too slowly for people who cannot afford another seven days’ uncertainty.

“The prime minister repeatedly says ‘wait until next week’,” the shadow foreign secretary, Lisa Nandy, tweeted. “Meanwhile businesses are folding and people are being laid off.

“There are 5 million people on a furlough scheme that comes to an end next month. They deserve a clear answer now.”

Hafta Ichi
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Boris Johnson pledges more Covid support than Labour is demanding | Coronavirus

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