Harrogate MP slams 'mud slinging' after being criticised over efforts to protect jobs

Harrogate's MP has hit back at what he condemned as "mud slinging" from local opposition politicians who claimed he was “showing a lack of leadership” over the future of local jobs.

Monday, 28th September 2020, 3:57 pm
Updated Monday, 28th September 2020, 4:06 pm
Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones said "Opposition politicians should be straining every sinew to pull our community and local businesses through the pandemic."

After Harrogate and Knaresborough's Liberal Democrats expressed concerns that the Government's new jobs support scheme during Covid was "too little, too late" to prevent many future job losses, Mr Andrew Jones said the Government support packages had been among the best in the world.

But, he added, it was not possible for the Government to give a guarantee that every job would survive the pandemic.

Mr Jones said: “While the various support packages have been among the most comprehensive in the world, the Chancellor has always been clear that it is impossible to save every job and every business.

"Like every MP of every party I will do the best I can with cases brought to me.

"What I will not do is spend time away from this important work replying to mudslinging from opposition politicians. "

Chancellor Rishi Sunak last week announced that workers were to get three quarters of their normal salaries for six months under the new plan to replace the current furlough scheme which ends in October.

However, Harrogate and Knaresborough Liberal Democrats have argued that the support will not go far enough to protect hard-hit events, tourism and hospitality businesses already struggling to keep staff on their books.

But Mr Jones, MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough, said opposition figures should be putting their efforts into supporting the local economy rather than 'playing politics.'

He said: “Opposition politicians should be straining every sinew to pull our community and local businesses through the pandemic.

“Energy and time spent doing anything else is not energy well used nor time well spent.”

Claims have also been growing that as many as three million UK taxpayers have not been eligible for any of the Government's various Covid-19 financial schemes this year, leaving many of them without income.

Those reportedly affected - in Harrogate like elsewhere - include, in particular, SEISS (Self Employed Income Support Scheme) limited company directors, PAYE freelancers, self employed, new starters and women on maternity.

Mr Jones said he had not been ignoring the situation and had been supporting individuals locally.

He said: “I am taking up cases on behalf of constituents as I have been doing on this issue since March."

But non-party political pressure group ExcludedUK, which is supported by a substantial number of MPs from all parties, is to join forces with other organisations for a major protest this Wednesday, September 30 to highlight the continued need for more COVID-19 support from the Government.

People excluded from the Government's Covid-19 support will join pantomime dames and creative workers for a day of action to include a socially distanced march through London on 30 September, organised by ExcludedUK, Bectu, Equity and #WeMakeEvents.

ExcludedUK is a grassroots volunteer-run not-for-profit organisation established in response to the financial challenges faced by individuals and businesses entirely - or largely - excluded from Government Covid-19 support: www.excludeduk.org

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