Coronavirus: Labour leadership candidate Rebecca Long-Bailey calls for universal basic income during pandemic
Labour leadership contender says workers need financial security
Rebecca Long-Bailey has called for a universal basic income to be paid to all workers, in order to provide financial security during the Covid-19 outbreak.
The Labour leadership candidate said the proposal, which would pay everyone at least the living wage, was a "streamlined" way of getting around the economic problems caused by the virus.
The shadow business secretary said the policy would take the form of a "fixed payment made to all, providing everyone with a basic minimum income of at least the real living wage, for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic".
She said the policy would be a good way of dealing with problems such as the limited coverage and low rate of sick pay, which is not paid to self-employed workers.
"For many in Britain, quite how radically our lives will be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic is yet to fully sink in," she wrote in an article published in the Guardian newspaper.
"The government has already moved to reassure businesses with emergency measures – but a growing number of workers are waiting for comparable support."
The candidate, who polls currently show in second place behind Keir Starmer to replace Jeremy Corbyn, also called the Government to extend its suspension of mortgage payments to rent payments.
And she said the UK should follow countries like Ireland and Denmark in subsidising the salaries of workers whose employers had had to reduce their business activity. In Denmark, the government has said it will replace 75 per cent of lost salaries.
Ms Long-Bailey, who is the MP for Salford, said "people deserve nothing less than the same level of reassurance that the government has already afforded to business", following the unveiling of a package of measures by the Chancellor.
The living wage is currently around £17,000 a year outside London, where the rate is set higher to account for higher cost of living.
Last week Labour announced that it would cancel its special conference to announce its new leader, and instead put on a "scaled-back" event to announce the result, due on 4 April.
Leadership frontrunner Keir Starmer said on Tuesday also criticised the government's approach, arguing that the extra fiscal stimulus announced by the chancellor was "overdue" and "does not go far enough".
"The chancellor announced no new support for renters, no new money for social care, insufficient clarity for employment support and no new money for public services and local authorities," he said.
Lisa Nandy, who is also running in the contest, called for wage guarantees for affected workers, an extension of sick pay covering all living costs, and financial support and protection for renters.