Writing to the Prime Minister, Imran has blasted the Government’s Coronavirus strategy for ignoring poverty as one of the key drivers of local infection rates.
In his letter, Imran has urged the Prime Minister to drop their approach of ‘moving the goalposts’ by frequently changing what is and isn’t permissible for people to do in one area but the opposite in another, which he declares is creating unnecessary confusion and inconsistency, and instead focus the Government’s efforts on tackling low pay and poverty, which will produce real results in lowering infections.
Savaging the Government’s consistent refusal to take sufficient action in this area, Imran declared that those in poverty and low pay who display symptoms or test positive for the virus are being forced to make the difficult choice between being exposed to financial hardship by isolating without enough to live on, or taking risks by continuing to work in order to be able to pay their bills and feed their families.
Imran has, therefore, demanded that the Prime Minister ensures that no one is left financially disadvantaged for having to isolate alone or with their family throughout this period by matching sick pay to at least the National Minimum Wage, and by lifting welfare caps and restrictions that mean many people have to work excessive hours, exposing them to greater risks to make ends meet.
Speaking on his demand of the Government for greater action to tackle poverty, Imran said:
“At such a crucial moment for the country, it is vital that people have trust in their Government to do the right thing by listening to experts, local partners and to the responses they are receiving, but instead of showing leadership, they are creating confusion by repeatedly shifting the goalposts over what we can and cannot do.
“Instead of these frequent, confusing changes to restrictions that have created a ‘pick and mix’ of measures across different areas, the Government must impose some consistency and instead focus their attention not on making these changes, but on the key role that poverty and low pay plays in increasing the rate of infections.
“As long as people struggling to make ends meet have to choose between isolating and going without pay, or continuing to work to put a roof over their head and food on the table, we will never be able to tackle this virus. The Government must ensure that making the right decision to isolate is never a financial burden, which means ensuring that sick pay in this period at least matches the Minimum Wage and nothing less.”