Keir Starmer demands ‘flexible furlough’ for struggling working parents

Keir Starmer today demanded ministers get four million coronavirus vaccines into the arms of Britons every week by the end of February and bring in ‘flexi-furlough’ for struggling working parents to get through the worst crisis of the pandemic so far.

The Labour leader demanded Boris Johnson take firm action to protect families in a speech in which he lashed out at planned council tax rises and benefit curbs.

Sir Keir also lashed out at Government waste during the pandemic and attacked the PM for finding cash to give former adviser Dominic Cummings a lavish pay rise while key workers struggled. 

In a speech broadcast this morning he attacked support for working families, urging changes to the furlough scheme while schools are closed because of the lockdown.

‘Working parents have been left once again to juggle childcare and work,’ he said.

‘It’s hard on the kids. It’s hard on the school staff, and and it’s tough on every parent.

‘For those who can work at home, it’s difficult. But for those parents who can’t work from home or don’t have a partner to share the load, it can mean the difference between keeping their job or looking after their family.

‘So the Government should go further to support working parents.

‘By creating a legal, enforceable and immediate right for parents to request paid flexible furlough and by promoting that to all working parents to help them get through this lockdown.’

The Labour leader demanded Boris Johnson take firm action to protect families in a speech in which he lashed out at planned council tax rises and benefit curbs.

The Labour leader demanded Boris Johnson take firm action to protect families in a speech in which he lashed out at planned council tax rises and benefit curbs.

It was revealed in December that Mr Cummings received a Number 10 pay rise of at least £40,000 last year

It was revealed in December that Mr Cummings received a Number 10 pay rise of at least £40,000 last year

Labour analysis suggests that a 5 per cent council tax rise for those living in a band D property would see bills increase by an average of £90 in April

Labour analysis suggests that a 5 per cent council tax rise for those living in a band D property would see bills increase by an average of £90 in April

Labour analysis suggests that a 5 per cent council tax rise – permitted after Chancellor Rishi Sunak signalled the go-ahead during his Spending Review for the home levy and the social care levy to be hiked by 2 per cent and 3 per cent respectively – for those living in a band D property would see bills increase by an average of £90 in April.

Stopping the planned April cut in Universal Credit would put an extra £1,000 in the pockets of six million families, the party also said.

‘And on top of that, they want to freeze pay for millions of key workers who have got us through this crisis – including our armed forces, our care workers, our teachers, our firefighters and police officers,’ Sir Keir added.

‘This shows that the Government isn’t just incompetent but also that it has the wrong priorities.

‘This is the Government that gave Dominic Cummings a £40,000 pay rise, but won’t pay our carers a decent wage.

‘This is the Government that wasted £22billion of taxpayers’ money on a testing system that doesn’t work, but now can’t find the money to support families.

‘And this is the Government that sprayed money on private contracts that didn’t deliver, but won’t give councils the support they need.’

It was revealed in December that Mr Cummings received a Number 10 pay rise of at least £40,000 last year as Boris Johnson’s army of Government special advisers cost taxpayers almost £10million.

Mr Cummings, who sensationally quit before Christmas after losing a Downing Street power battle in November, was listed in the £95,000 to £99,000 salary band in 2019.

But the latest figures published by the Cabinet Office revealed the PM’s now former chief adviser saw his pay jump to the £140,000 to £145,000 salary band in 2020.

The massive increase in salary came in a year in which Mr Cummings became embroiled in a huge public row over his 260-mile lockdown trip to Durham and amid major criticism of the Government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Amanda Milling, co-chairman of the Conservative Party, said: ‘Keir Starmer is once again calling for actions the Conservatives are already taking in Government.

‘We have delivered an unprecedented £280 billion package of support to protect jobs, livelihoods and public services through this pandemic: paying the wages of nearly 10 million workers through our furlough scheme, increasing Universal Credit by £1,000 and giving councils extra funding to help the most vulnerable.

‘The Conservatives will continue to put families and communities at the heart of every decision we take as we deliver on our promises to the British people.’

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