For many people Furlough has become a financial life jacket that has kept them afloat during the pandemic and it is now one that is due to be withdrawn. Furlough allowed employers to keep people on their books while work was not available or practical. We are now approaching the harsh reality of COVID without furlough and many people will be greatly concerned that they are doomed to face financial hardship. My office has already reached out to local charities, organisations and the DWP to ensure that we can work together to stop people falling through the gaps. The welfare system can be a scary and complex world and I know that the staff in the job centre in Greenock are skilled in managing this situation. Sometimes they are limited in what can be done but the fault is not theirs. We have a welfare system that has been kicked about and abused for years with the result that it’s creaking at the seams.
Along with the withdrawal of furlough we will have the removal of the £20 universal credit uplift which will harm 9,285 people in Inverclyde. that is 18.7% of our population. To add to this unfolding crisis the U.K. government has decided not to increase pensions in keeping with the triple lock as promised in the Conservative and Unionist party manifesto. There was cross party support this week at Westminster to change the pension and Universal Credit plans, but the UK government pulled their ranks together and refused to listen to the argument for compassionate legislation. At the start of this pandemic, I said that it was wrong to say we were all in this together and that the poorest and most disadvantaged would pay a higher price, both in health and money, unfortunately I was right.