Eustice told to ‘get real’ as he tells peers UK will not use fisheries as bargaining chip in trade talks – live news | Politics

Boris Johnson was mostly applauded by the punditocracy yesterday for the way he presented the government’s coronavirus action plan but he, and other ministers, have been unable to answer a series of questions about what they will do to help workers who lose pay because they have to self-isolate at home – beyond saying that these issues are being kept under review. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, hinted in the Commons yesterday afternoon that rules on sick leave might be relaxed. But now the TUC is stepping up the pressure on this issue, calling for emergency legislation to extend statutory sick pay (SSP) entitlement to the 2m people who currently don’t qualify.

In an open letter to Hancock and Thérèse Coffey, the work and pensions secretary, Frances O’Grady, the TUC general secretary, says:

More cases of Covid-19 – widely referred to as coronavirus – are being confirmed in the UK, as the Department of Health warns that it is highly likely that the spread could significantly increase. The government’s own plans indicate that up to a fifth of the workforce may be off work during the peak of the epidemic.

The government has confirmed that any worker who is required to go into self-isolation, quarantine or who falls ill with symptoms will be entitled to SSP.

Because nearly two million workers in the UK don’t currently earn enough to qualify for sick pay, many may find themselves struggling to make ends meet. Even for those who are eligible, the payment is still too low at just £94.25 a week. And workers at present must be off sick for four days or more in a row to receive any SSP.

These arrangements, if not improved, may lead to workers not taking the appropriate time off work, either in self-isolation to prevent infection, or when genuinely ill in order to avoid a financial loss. This is an impossible choice that has serious implications for us all.

SSP is hardly generous. The TUC is also urging the government to increase it to the equivalent of the national living wage, and to require employers to ensure that anyone who has to self-isolate at home on health grounds continues to receive full pay.

We are likely to hear more on this topic at PMQs. Of course, the ramifications of coronavirus go much wider than this, and our main coverage is on our coronavirus outbreak live blog, which is here.

As usual, I will be focusing on Westminster politics. Here is the agenda for the day.

9.30am: The Resolution Foundation thinktank publishes a report on infrastructure.

10am: George Eustice, the environment secretary, gives evidence to the Lords EU energy and environment subcommittee about the negotiation on fisheries with the EU.

10.30am: Lord Reed, the new president of the supreme court, and Lord Hodge, the deputy president, give evidence to the Lords constitution committee.

12pm: Boris Johnson faces Jeremy Corbyn at PMQs.

2.15pm: Andrew Bailey, the incoming governor of the Bank of England, gives evidence to the Commons Treasury committee.

2.30pm: Bernadette Kelly, permanent secretary at the Department for Transport and Mark Thurston, chief executive officer at HS2, give evidence to the Commons public accounts committee.

I will be covering breaking political news as it happens, as well as bringing you the best reaction, comment and analysis from the web. I plan to post a summary when I wrap up.

You can read all the latest Guardian politics articles here. Here is the Politico Europe roundup of this morning’s political news. And here is the PoliticsHome list of today’s top 10 must-reads.

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