Coronavirus UK: Dame Louise Casey says two-thirds furlough scheme does not ‘cut it’

Ex-homelessness tsar claims people will have to ‘prostitute themselves to put food on the table’ as she says UK is facing ‘period of destitution’ because two-thirds furlough won’t ‘cut it’

  • Government funded 80% of workers’ wages until August under furlough scheme
  • The scheme is now winding down until it is closed at the end of the month 
  • Dame Louise Casey tells of a ‘sense from Westminster that people will make do’
  • But former homelessness adviser says: ‘Well, they weren’t coping before Covid’

Dame Louise Casey has claimed the offer of two-thirds pay for workers whose firms shut could see people ‘prostitute themselves so they could put food on the table’. 

In a blistering attack, the Government’s former homelessness adviser warned new measures from Ministers to support employees not at work would not ‘cut it’.

Under the furlough scheme, taxpayers funded 80 per cent of workers’ wages until August, with the scheme winding down until it is closed at the end of the month.

A separate Job Support Scheme, which launches on November 1 and lasts for six months, will involve the Government paying two thirds of each employee’s salary.

But this will only be up to a maximum of £2,100 a month and only if their employer is legally required to close their premises because of restrictions. 

Dame Louise told BBC News:  We are looking at a period of destitution. I can’t impress upon you enough that I think we are heading into an unprecedented period. 

‘We’re already in it and it’s going to get worse. And it needs a more cross-government cross-society response.’

‘Do we want to go back to the days where people can’t put shoes on the children’s feet? Are we actually asking people in places like Liverpool to go out and prostitute themselves, so that they could put food on the table?’ 

She also told how it was wrong for Downing Street and Westminster to have a sense that ‘people will make do’ because they ‘weren’t coping before Covid’.

She added: ‘It’s like you’re saying to people, ‘You can only afford two-thirds of your rent, you can only afford two-thirds of the food that you need to put on the table.”

A woman walks past a homeless person’s tent in London’s West End on September 17

On Tuesday, the Government said councils will receive £10million to help keep rough sleepers safe from the double threat of coronavirus and cold weather this winter.

The Cold Weather Payment will help local authorities provide more self-contained accommodation for homeless people, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said.

A further £2million is being given to faith and community groups so they can transform spaces to provide appropriate emergency accommodation.

And guidance has been published to help communal shelters reopen safely, where not doing so would endanger lives.

But the charity Crisis called on the Government to urgently ‘see sense’ and ensure night shelters stay closed over winter. 

The Government's former homelessness tsar Dame Louise Casey spoke to BBC News (above)

The Government’s former homelessness tsar Dame Louise Casey spoke to BBC News (above)

Yesterday a report claimed women are being released from prison with just £46, a bin bag for their belongings and nowhere to live.

Research by a group of organisations known as the Safe Homes for Women Leaving Prison initiative called on the Government to take urgent action to address the housing needs of those leaving life behind bars.

The Prison Reform Trust, the London Prisons Mission and the Church of St Martins in the Fields, who worked on the project with women’s jail HMP Bronzefield in Middlesex, also want to see targets set for ensuring offenders have accommodation after leaving jail within a certain timeframe as well as it being made compulsory to refer prisoners who have been released to councils if they do not have a place to live.

The report claims finding housing and a job is ‘vital to achieving successful rehabilitation’, adding: ‘Without settled accommodation, securing employment, maintaining positive mental health and preventing a return to harmful behaviour such as substance abuse are practically unachievable.’