PM’s speech

Key lines

  • The country was looking for the Prime Minister to deliver on his promises to them, but today’s announcement suggests he is unaware of the scale of economic challenge the country faces.
  • The claimant count of unemployment is already at levels not seen since the 1980s. The OECD forecast the UK to suffer worst damage from the Covid-19 crisis of any country in the developed world and the furlough is about to be unwound in a one size fits all way that will put more people out of work.
  • We needed a set of proposals from the Prime Minister that would rise to the unemployment challenge with a relentless focus on jobs. Instead we got a speech built on rhetoric and rehashed announcements rather than action.
  • Much of what the Prime Minister has announced today is rehashed or thin gruel. For example, the Prime Minister talked about getting more homes built. But the detail showed he is cutting funding for affordable homes by stretching the existing £12 billion over eight years instead of five, and reducing standards by allowing more to avoid planning permission.
  • The Tories have weakened the foundations of the British economy with a lost decade of underinvestment.
  • If had invested properly over the last decade – and not been so slow to manage the health crisis – we would be better placed to recover from the shock of the virus more quickly.


On overall “New Deal” package

  • We don’t know whether the £5 billion of capital investment outlined is new money or not as we haven’t seen the government’s capital budgets beyond next year or infrastructure strategy.
  • It only provides around £100 per person and does little in the immediate term to reassure the millions claiming UC, the millions facing redundancy as furlough unwinds and the millions of young people leaving education
  • £5bn amounts to just over 0.2% of GDP. Germany’s stimulus package[1]amounted to 3.78% of GDP.
  • The £1bn promised for schools is less than half of the £2.77bn that was cut from capital investment in education last decade.
  • Despite failing to deliver past promises on housebuilding, the PM’s announcement provides no concrete commitments to build the homes we need.
  • There is very little on investing in the renewable energy. Germany promised over £10billion worth of green infrastructure projects alone.



  • The government has been too slow throughout the health crisis – Britain cannot afford for them to be too slow on the economic crisis.
  • To protect our economy, we need action now on jobs.
  • That’s why Labour has been calling for a ‘Back to Work Budget’ that focuses on jobs, jobs, jobs. Protecting jobs. Helping people back into work. And working with the private sector to ensure British people are well-placed for the high-skilled jobs of the future.
  • We know that around one million hospitality jobs are in immediate danger. We know the warning lights are flashing on the dashboard of our economy. We need the government to act now.
  • From day one of Keir Starmer’s leadership, Labour has said that we need a plan that allows us to safely exit lockdown and protect the economy.
  • That plan has got to match the scale of the challenge we face. Listening to the Chancellor on Friday, it sounded like he plans to take a hands-off approach to supporting businesses and supporting people’s jobs. That simply will not work.


Local lockdowns

  • The government made local lockdowns a key component of the exit strategy but yet again they were too slow to involve local authorities, just like they were too slow to enforce the lockdown nationally.
  • The lack of a functioning test, track and trace system, coupled with their failure to give councils the power to take action quickly, could lead to local outbreaks becoming deadly national ones.
  • The government must not waste any more time, we are facing the risk of a deadly second wave of infections and a second national lockdown fatal for both lives and livelihoods across the country.

Labour is calling on the government to:

  • Ensure that Local Authority Directors of Public Health have access to all Coronavirus test data, including the postcodes of all positive tests;
  • Provide guidance on exactly what legal powers are available to local authorities to rapidly put in place local lockdowns by closing schools, workplaces or neighbourhoods;
  • Clarify where decision-making for local lockdowns will be taken – whether by the government, the Joint Biosecurity Centre or left for local authorities; and
  • Keep the promise to fund councils in full for the cost of the crisis, so that they don’t have to cut the resources they need to keep our communities safe.



Reopening schools

  • All children must be safely back in school by September. By then, they’ll have suffered a six month gap in their learning. Officials in the Department for Education have warned this could lead to a widening of the attainment gap of up to 75% as children from disadvantaged backgrounds have lacked access to resources to learn at home.
  • Teachers, school leaders, staff, and parents have achieved a huge amount throughout this crisis, and now they desperately need the support of the government. With only three weeks to go before the end of term, there is an enormous amount to prepare: finalising health and safety arrangements, ensuring there is space for children to learn, restructuring the school day and providing reassurance to parents.
  • The government has been asleep at the wheel, but heads and staff cannot be left to do this alone. Labour is calling for a cross-party taskforce to focus urgently on getting the necessary arrangements in place so that all students can return safely in September.

Labour is calling on the government to:

  • Produce a national education plan with school leaders so that schools can reopen to all pupils safely;
  • Outline how it will scale up a tutoring offer for every pupil;
  • Illustrate an offer to Local Government to make summer schemes possible;
  • Detail how it will lower pupil teacher ratios and source additional school space in public buildings to ensure safe social distancing;
  • Work with Ofqual and school leaders to streamline GCSE and A levels and outlining plans for blended at home and school learning, as well as assessment methods in the event of a second spike or rise in the R rate;
  • Provide free laptops for children who do not have them so that they are able to access online learning at home; and
  • Come forward with a fully resourced national plan for children’s wellbeing to support children who need emotional support as a result of the pandemic.


Social care

  • Ministers have now admitted that they did not give care homes the protection they needed at the start of this pandemic. Their claims to have formed a protective ring around care homes are ringing hollow.
  • Social care and the NHS are both equally important in the fight against this virus, and are inextricably linked. One cannot be prioritised above the other.
  • The government is still being too slow in their response. MPs have received reports of complete confusion around care home testing, with the new portal only available for care homes for over 65s and the portal not accepting care homes who try to apply.
  • The government must give social care the resources, support and attention it needs to stop the spread of this awful virus.
  • Labour is calling on the government to ensure:
    • A new intermediate care strategy for people being discharged from hospital who test positive for Covid-19, and to support struggling care homes;
    • Guarantees that all care workers get the PPE they need: for domiciliary care workers and Personal Assistants employed via Direct Payments, as well as staff in residential care;
    • Social care has “whatever resources it takes” to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic; and
    • New leadership for social care sector, with a new Chief Care Officer.


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