Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Sky News host Kay Burley became embroiled in a heated exchange as the presenter questioned Mr Sunak over his proposed economy rescue strategy. The Chancellor on Wednesday unveiled a £30billion plan to keep unemployment under control and to boost the economy in the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis. The pair engaged in particularly fiery debate on the measures unveiled to help skilled workers.
Ms Burley suggested much of the “mini-budget” was targeted towards younger workers but would not help members of at-risk sectors fearing for their jobs.
While the Chancellor conceded many of the measures are aimed at the younger generations, he pointed out the Treasury had also devised a series of apprenticeships for older workers.
The Sky News presenter said: “People in hospitality, it’s terrible they will lose their jobs – potentially not that hard for them to get a new job, some might say.
“Skilled workers…once the skilled workers are gone, they are gone whether they are car workers, pilots in the aviation industry or engineers. Why aren’t you doing more to help them? Because those sectors are saying you’re not helping them.
Rishi Sunak defended his proposed measures to help the British economy recover
Rishi Sunak insisted the measures he unveiled would also help skilled workers
As Ms Burley insisted the Government needed to provide workers with more clarity, the Chancellor insisted “we did that,” but conceded there will still be “hard times ahead.”
Mr Sunak said: “I’m concentrating my support on the young because that’s where there are the most acute issues, they are the ones that are the most impacted and the ones whose life chances are the most impacted as well by what’s happening.
“One thing we did yesterday is introduce a new bonus for companies to take on apprentices above the age of 25.
“That’s not something that normally happens, normally incentive payments for employers to take on apprentices are concentrated on youngsters. Actually, 44 percent of apprentices today are actually older than 25.”
Kay Burley claimed apprenticeships would not help skilled workers
But Ms Burley hit back: “Yes, but we don’t want apprentices flying planes. We want a skilled worker flying aeroplanes and they’re all being laid off.”
Ms Burley also questioned the Chancellor over a new £1,000 bonus aimed at incentivising employers to bring back furloughed workers.
The Sky News host said: “The smaller businesses, not the theatres particularly, but the nightclubs, venues, that sort of thing – £1,000 is not going to be enough to really help them, is it?”
But Mr Sunak hit back, saying the bonus is a “significant reward” that could help save many jobs.
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The furlough scheme was devised to avoid mass unemployment because of the lockdown
He said: “All jobs are valuable to me and worth preserving if we can do that.
“If you look at the income distribution of those who are on furlough, I’m confident that £1,000 can make a significant contribution to the cost of employment over a period of time.
“I think it will provide a significant reward and incentive to employers to bring those furloughed employers back.”
The Chancellor conceded it is “too early to tell” whether the policies adopted by the Treasure will have the desired effect but he insisted the UK is now out of the “acute” risk phase of the crisis.