Labour’s new shadow chancellor today called for furloughing to be replaced with a new scheme allowing part time work – and declared that cash help should in future go only to “responsible” companies..
Anneliese Dodds accepted that blanket furloughing should end at the end of next month, saying: “The furlough scheme can’t and shouldn’t go on forever.”
Instead of extending it, which was Labour’s old position, there would be a replacement scheme allowing “businesses in key sectors to bring staff back to work on reduced hours, with Government backing wages for the rest of the week.”
She told Labour’s first ever virtual party conference: “The scheme would incentivise targeted businesses to bring back more workers part time, instead of bringing some back full time and letting others go.”
In a major shift away from blanket help for business hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, Ms Dodds also said that in future, taxpayers’ help should be “targeted” at firms deemed by the Government to be “responsible” employers.
However this is bound to raise questions about which firms would get help and which would be declined – and opens the party to accusations that it will give least help to workers who have already had to least favourable treatment at work.
Ms Dodds said: “Unlike the Conservatives’ schemes, it wouldn’t involve a blank cheque.
“Support would go to businesses signing up to treat their workers decently, meet net zero obligations and pause dividend payments for the duration of the scheme.”
Labour would also press for a national “retraining strategy” to help people move from sectors of the economy stricken by the pandemic into areas able to grow.
Here vision was of "Government working hand in hand with business and trade unions, in the best interests of our country”.
She attacked Chancellor Rishi Sunak as “cavalier with public money” and claimed she could be trusted with the public finances because of her track record in calling for action on tax.
"I've never missed an opportunity to confront financial mismanagement,” she said. “I've spent my political career fighting international money laundering and tax evasion," she is expected to say.
"While the Chancellor was profiting from a financial system that took huge risks and then passed them on to ordinary people, I helped to rein it in."
Before her speech there was a sharp warning from the Unite general secretary Len McCluskey - a close ally of former leader Jeremy Corbyn - to Sir Keir that he could "steer the ship on to the rocks" if he tried to ignore the Labour left.
Mr Corbyn is set to address an online rally of the Socialist Campaign Group this evening in his first major public appearance since the party's crushing general election defeat in December.