‘Could you live on that?’ Dowden grilled on minimum furlough wage as MPs set for £3K raise

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During an interview with Sky News’ Kay Burley the Conservative Party frontbencher discussed the impact coronavirus restrictions are having on the UK economy. The furlough scheme will support two-thirds of a person’s salary despite the fact it may fall below the minimum living wage. 

Ms Burley said: “A young person is earning £8.72 an hour for the national living wage, that means £5.84 an hour. Could you live on that?

“I know these are very challenging times but in order to control the virus we are having a big impact on the economy.”

The Culture Secretary replied: “The Chancellor has taken unprecedented measures to try and ameliorate the worst impacts of it.”

The Sky News host added: “The answer to my question?”

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Mr Dowden replied: “It is very difficult for people in that situation, that is why we want to move as quickly as we can while controlling this virus to more of the normality of reopening the economy so people are able to have their jobs back properly.”

Ms Burley said: “I wanted to clarify whether you thought £5.84 is now a living wage.

“Could you survive on £5.84 an hour?

“Because MPs are looking to get a £3,000 pay increase aren’t they?”

The Culture Secretary responded: “That is for IPSA which is the independent body, we don’t want to go back to the position where MPs are determining their own salaries, that was a whole area of difficulty before.”

This follows the Chancellor pledgeding to expand his Job Support Scheme to allow the Treasury to pay two-thirds of workers’ wages at firms forced to close due to coronavirus restrictions. 

He also increased grants for affected businesses to up to £3,000 a month.

Mr Sunak said: “I have always said that we will do whatever is necessary to protect jobs and livelihoods as the situation evolves.”

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“The expansion of the Job Support Scheme will provide a safety net for businesses across the UK who are required to temporarily close their doors, giving them the right support at the right time.”

Under Mr Sunak’s scheme, government grants will cover two-thirds of the wages of staff unable to work, up to a maximum of £2,100 a month.

Businesses can claim the grant only while under restrictions and employees must be off work for a minimum of seven consecutive days.

The scheme will begin on November 1 and will be available for six months, with a review in January.

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