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As he unveiled the Government’s summer 2020 budget, the Chancellor took a brilliant swipe at SNP nationalists and Nicola Sturgeon’s quest to let Scotland become an independent country from the United Kingdom.
Rishi Sunak said: “This crisis has highlighted the special bond which holds this country together.
“Millions of people in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have been protected but the UK Government’s interventions – and they will be supported by today’s plans for jobs.
“No nationalist could ignore the undeniable truth – this help has only been possible because we are a United Kingdom.”
The Chancellor said he knows people are “worried still”, telling the Commons: “People are anxious about losing their jobs, about unemployment rising. We’re not just going to accept this.
“People need to know we will do all we can to give everyone the opportunity of good and secure work. People need to know that although hardship lies ahead, no one will be left without hope.”
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Mr Sunak said the plan is to “protect, support and create” jobs, adding: “Where problems emerge, we will confront them. Where support is justified, we will provide it. Where challenges arise, we will overcome them.
“We entered this crisis unencumbered by dogma and we continue in this spirit, driven always by the simple desire to do what is right.”
Mr Sunak said the UK economy “contracted by 25%” in two months, adding in the Commons: “The same amount it grew in the previous 18 years.
“And the independent OBR (Office for Budget Responsibility) and Bank of England are both projecting significant job losses – the most urgent challenge we now face.
“I want every person in this House and in the country to know that I will never accept unemployment as an unavoidable outcome.
“We haven’t done everything we have so far just to step back now and say, ‘job done’. In truth, the job has only just begun.”
Explaining the new bonus scheme, Rishi Sunak told the Commons: “If you’re an employer and you bring back someone who was furloughed – and continuously employ them through to January – we’ll pay you a £1,000 bonus per employee.
“Its vital people aren’t just returning for the sake of it – they need to be doing decent work. So for businesses to get the bonus, the employee must be paid at least £520 on average, in each month from November to the end of January – the equivalent of the lower earnings limit in national insurance.”
The Chancellor said if employers bring back all nine million people who have been on furlough then it would be a £9 billion policy.
He added: “Our message to business is clear: if you stand by your workers, we will stand by you.”
The Chancellor also announced the “kickstart scheme” to help young people secure jobs.
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Rishi Sunak told the Commons: “The kickstart scheme will directly pay employers to create new jobs for any 16 to 24-year-old at risk of long-term unemployment. These will be new jobs – with the funding conditional on the firm proving these jobs are additional.
“These will be decent jobs – with a minimum of 25 hours per week paid at least the national minimum wage.”
Mr Sunak said employers will need to provide training and support to find a permanent job, adding: “If employers meet those conditions, we will pay young people’s wages for six months, plus an amount to cover overheads.”
He said the hope is for the first people to be in their jobs by autumn, with an initial £2 billion made available and no cap on the number of places available.
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