Stewart McDonald MP has called for the Chancellor to deliver a much-needed boost to sick pay in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
The UK has one of the lowest levels of sick pay in Europe and it has previously been described as “manifestly inadequate”. While countries like Ireland increased their level of sick pay during the pandemic, Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) in the UK has remained at its low level and millions are still ineligible due to low pay or employment status.
The TUC estimates that it is equal to only a fifth of the average worker’s weekly earnings and leaves 43% of workers unable to afford self-isolation.
Having already pressed the Prime Minister on the issue, SNP MP Stewart McDonald used a question at the Spending Review (Nov 25th) to tell the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, that now more than ever was the time to take steps to increase and reform the current level of SSP to something people can actually live on when they’re sick.
Stewart McDonald MP said:
“Even before the current pandemic, we knew that Statutory Sick Pay in the UK is one of the least generous in the world – second from the bottom in comparison to other European countries.
“Whilst much of the support announced at the start of the pandemic has been welcome, millions of people still face falling through the cracks of a woefully deficient sick pay system which is leaving people without enough money to live on.
"Now even more people face a loss of earnings as a result of the UK Government's derisory SSP entitlement for people who are asked to self-isolate or who are unwell. The circumstances around this horrible virus shows SSP must be reviewed and reformed urgently.
“People need urgent support to prevent them from falling into further poverty, yet the Tories have presided over one of the least generous sick pay rates in the world - effectively pushing those in most need into poverty through no fault of their own.
"Having already written to the Prime Minister about increasing the rate of SSP, I am now calling on the Chancellor to use Spending Review to fix this injustice. Now and after the pandemic, we must fix our system of SSP to ensure people are no longer punished for being sick or following public health guidance."