TORY Chancellor Rishi Sunak said yesterday that the NHS will get ‘whatever resources it needs’ to cope with a coronavirus epidemic.
He alleged to the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that the Tories had produced ‘strong’ economic foundations that meant he could provide additional funding.
Sunak pledged to address the coronavirus outbreak in his Budget and insisted that the impact of the virus on business ‘could be significant, but for a temporary period of time’.
He said: ‘I can say absolutely, categorically, the NHS will get whatever resources it needs to get us through this crisis.’
However, he refused to deal with the massive crisis facing masses of workers.
The retirement watchdog has already opened urgent talks with pension trustees of failed airline Flybe, amid fears that more than 1,300 of the fund’s members are facing financial ruin because it was registered offshore for tax avoidance purposes.
The British Regional Airlines Group pension scheme is registered in the Isle of Man rather than the UK – meaning members are not entitled to payments from the Pension Protection Fund (PPF).
Their plight contrasts sharply with Flybe’s wealthy owners, which include Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic, 69, and a US hedge fund, who are among well-off investors likely to recover money from Flybe after it went bust last week.
Flybe’s pension scheme had an £11.6million shortfall in November 2018.
Sir Steve Webb, former pensions minister, said: ‘The PPF is like car insurance – if you don’t pay, you can’t claim. It is a devastating blow to Flybe workers not only to lose their jobs but, potentially, part of their pensions as well.’
As well, in a letter from its assistant general secretary Steve Turner to the Tory business secretary Alok Sharma, Unite has requested an urgent meeting to talk about the immediate prospect of workers having their hours drastically reduced and entire factories closed down as a result of supply chains being ruptured by the virus.
Turner warned: ‘We are of the view that if the situation in China does not improve over the coming three to four weeks, UK automotive plants will be entering periods of short-time working and/or enforced production shutdown.’
The Chancellor has not taken up the offer of a meeting!
- Tesco has already started rationing food and household items, limiting shoppers to no more than five of each of the rationed goods, including antibacterial gels, wipes and sprays, dry pasta, UHT milk and some tinned vegetables.
Waitrose has introduced a cap on some items on its website, including anti-bacterial soaps and wipes and Boots has restricted sales of hand sanitisers to two per person.
Supermarkets have been forced to act after their shelves were plundered again on Saturday, with customers reporting shortages of ready meals, toilet roll and paracetamol.
The Chancellor refused to deal with any of these burning issues.