Coronavirus exposes 'worst features of rotten system'

| 17th March 2020
Zarah Sultana MP: 'Let's be clear - a market approach to the outbreak will condemn working class people to decimation.'

In this crisis, we can't let the vulnerable suffer the most.

The coronavirus pandemic exposes the "worst features of our rotten system", ministers have been told.

Labour MP Zarah Sultana (Coventry South) made the claim as she set out a number of demands to the government in order to tackle the crisis.

Speaking during a House of Commons debate on the budget, Sultana called for rent, mortgage and utility payments to be suspended, as well as for the release of immigration detainees.

Sick

Sultana said: "This crisis exposes the worst features of our rotten system. Price gougers exploit it to make fortunes out of our expense, private hospitals charge millions for the NHS to use their beds, workers face mass layoffs and insecure jobs force people to work even when they're ill.

"Let's be clear - a market approach to the outbreak will condemn working class people to decimation."

Comparing the UK's approach to that of Denmark, Sultana listed her demands for what action the Government should take.

She said: "Guarantee economic security for everyone, give statutory sick pay to all workers at a decent rate so no-one has to choose between health and hardship. Suspend rent, mortgage and utility payments so no-one is evicted, has their home repossessed or has their services cut just because they're sick.

Scrap

"Support local authorities and food banks to distribute food so no-one goes hungry. Equip our NHS to deal with this emergency - that's bringing in hospital cleaners in-house and paying them the real living wage. They're at the front line and they deserve protection.

"Requisitioning private hospitals rent free, our need is more important than their profits. And repurposing manufacturing plants - our hospitals need ventilators.

"And in this crisis, we can't let the vulnerable suffer the most, we need to prevent a catastrophe in immigration detention by releasing detainees before the virus rips through those inhumane cages.

"Bring abandoned homes into public use to give homeless people a roof over their heads and scrap the Universal Credit five-week-wait. Uplift the payments, end the benefits cap, suspend all sanctions and give social care the same funding promise the NHS has."

This Author

Lewis McKenzie is the PA parliamentary reporter. 

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