THE SNP have renewed calls for the Chancellor to bring forward stronger welfare protections to make sure people are not pushed into hardship due to gaps in support during the coronavirus crisis.

Alison Thewliss, the party’s shadow chancellor, and Neil Gray, the SNP’s shadow work and pensions secretary, have written to Rishi Sunak asking him to look at four areas where the UK Government is failing to adequately support people through the new Covid-19 schemes.

The issues identified include delays in receiving support, gaps in the support available, insufficient levels of support and the need for statutory sick pay to be increased.

READ MORE: Alison Thewliss: Supporting self-employed people must be a priority

The party has consistently asked the UK Government to strengthen welfare protections during the pandemic by introducing a guaranteed minimum income for all.

Gray said this is a “crucial” time to support people and stop them being pushed into or further into destitution.

He said: “People in Scotland and across the UK are at risk of contracting coronavirus and spreading the virus to others through steps they have to take to survive because they do not qualify for support – this needs to stop.
“I welcome the measures the UK Government has already introduced but I am now urging the Chancellor to seriously consider the gaps in the measures and implement our proposals to close them to ensure everyone has a safety net.”

The National:

And Thewliss (above) said she hoped Sunak shares the party’s concerns that gaps in support could put lives “at risk”.

She went on: "The UK Government must listen to those of us who have been calling for welfare protections to be significantly strengthened to help people through this unprecedented emergency – including introducing a guaranteed minimum income.

“Now more than ever, we are committed to cross-party collaboration on these issues, and we are asking the Chancellor to assess without delay how these issues can be addressed. Our proposals are there to help with that.”

This week Spain became the first European country to announce it would implement a universal basic income during the crisis.

The scheme is set to be rolled out in the country, which has been particularly badly hit with the virus and has seen nearly 15,000 deaths, “as soon as possible”.

The country’s economic affairs minister said the scheme may be something that “stays forever, that becomes a structural instrument, a permanent instrument”.

Scotland is in lockdown. Shops are closing and newspaper sales are falling fast. It’s no exaggeration to say that the future of The National is at stake. Please consider supporting us through this with a digital subscription from just £2 for 2 months by following this link: Thanks – and stay safe.