Universal Credit: Labour presses PM for action ahead of benefit vote

Boris Johnson has been urged to give millions of families a “helping hand” ahead of a Commons vote on extending benefit increases worth £20 a week.

Labour will use a debate on Monday to ramp up the pressure on the government to prolong the Universal Credit uplift, worth £1,000 a year, beyond 31 March.

Sir Keir Starmer said families “needed certainty” incomes would be protected.

Tory MPs will abstain, meaning the non-binding motion will pass but ministers have not committed to implementing it.

Work and Pensions Secretary Theresa Coffey said the government had “consistently stepped up” to support low-income families and the most vulnerable in society throughout the pandemic and would continue to do so.

And, speaking on Sunday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the rise was supposed to be temporary when it was introduced in April and March’s Budget would look at welfare support for the most vulnerable “in the round”.

Charities and anti-poverty campaigners are pleading with the government to keep the support in place, describing it as a lifeline for the more than 5.5 million families who receive the standard Universal Credit allowance.

Labour’s motion calls for this and the £20 weekly increase in Working Tax Credit also put in place at the beginning of the pandemic to be extended indefinitely beyond 31 March.

Sir Keir said it was a vital safety net for those who had lost their jobs, seen their working hours slashed or who were not eligible for the government’s wage subsidy furlough scheme.

“Without action from government, millions of families face a £1,000 per year shortfall in the midst of a historic crisis,” he said.

“If we don’t give a helping hand to families through this pandemic, then we are going to slow our economic recovery as we come out it.

“We urge Boris Johnson to change course and give families certainty today that their incomes will be protected.”

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has suggested about 16 million people will be directly affected if the £20 is rolled back, with millions of households facing an income loss equivalent to £1,040 a year.

It says 500,000 more people will be driven into poverty, including 200,000 children, while a further 500,000 of those already in poverty will find themselves in even worse hardship.

Labour’s motion is sure to pass after Conservative MPs were told to abstain, amid fears that some – including those in “Blue Wall” seats in northern England elected last year – may defy the whip and vote against the government.

Speaking on behalf of the Northern Research Group, Conservative MP John Stevenson said the £1,000 uplift had been “a real life-saver for people throughout this pandemic”.

“To end it now would be devastating for the 6 million individuals and families who are already struggling to stay afloat,” he added.

While the vote is not binding, and will not lead to a change in policy, it will increase pressure on the government to either roll over the uplift or come up with an alternative.

Labour said the Conservatives’ decision to abstain created “unnecessary uncertainty” but Mr Raab said the debate was a “political” move by the opposition.

The government says it has strengthened the welfare system with an extra £7bn of funding during the pandemic while families struggling with food and household bills can get help through the £170m Winter Grant Scheme.

Ministers also point to extra support for housing costs, through an increase in local housing allowance for those on housing benefits and hardship payments worth £670m next year for those unable to pay their council tax bills.

Mr Raab said Chancellor Rishi Sunak would be taking a “holistic” approach to the support on offer in the Budget scheduled for 3 March.

“We’ve put that support in place to make sure that the most vulnerable communities can be protected at this very difficult time,” he told the Andrew Marr show.

Covid-19: Vaccination rollout begins for over-70s in England

People in England aged 70 and over, as well as those listed as clinically extremely vulnerable, will begin receiving offers of a coronavirus vaccine this week.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the move was a “significant milestone” in the nation’s vaccination programme.

It comes as 10 new mass vaccination hubs open across England.

Also from Monday, the UK is closing its travel corridors to protect against “as yet unidentified new strains” of Covid.

The expansion of the vaccination programme to the third and fourth priority groups comes after the number of people to receive a first dose rose to 3.8 million across the UK – more than have tested positive (3.4 million) since the pandemic began.

However, people in the top two groups – care home residents, those aged 80 and over and front-line healthcare workers – should still be prioritised for vaccinations, the Department for Health and Social Care said.

A further 298,087 people received their first dose of the vaccine on Saturday, and Health Secretary Matt Hancock said half of all those aged 80 and over had received at least one vaccine dose so far.

“We are now delivering the vaccine at a rate of 140 jabs a minute and I want to thank everyone involved in this national effort,” said Mr Johnson.

“We have a long way to go and there will doubtless be challenges ahead – but by working together we are making huge progress in our fight against this virus.”

Mr Hancock added: “This measure does not mean our focus on getting care homes, healthcare staff and those aged 80 and over vaccinated is wavering – it will remain our utmost priority over the coming weeks to reach the rest of these groups.”

In a bid to meet the government’s target of offering a vaccine to all 15 million people in the top four priority groups by 15 February, 10 new vaccination hubs are opening in England from Monday, to go with the seven already in use.

The seven hubs already in use are in: Etihad Tennis Centre, Manchester; Epsom Downs Racecourse, Surrey; Robertson House, Stevenage; Centre for Life, Newcastle; Ashton Gate Stadium, Bristol; Millennium Point, Birmingham; ExCel, London.

While the prime minster said the UK is making “huge progress in our fight against the virus”, he also expressed concern about that progress being derailed by new – currently unknown – variants of the virus.

As such, he announced on Friday that, from this week, all travel corridors are to be closed.

That means that anyone arriving in the UK will have to quarantine. Under current rules, anyone flying into the country from overseas also has to show proof of a negative Covid test before setting off.

The developments come after the UK recorded a further 671 deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid test, and another 38,598 positive tests.

Daily totals for cases and deaths tend to fluctuate due to delays in reporting, but the seven-day average for deaths in the UK is currently 1,119; for cases, it is 46,231.

Speaking to the BBC on Sunday, Sir Simon Stevens – chief executive of NHS England – said that some hospitals would open for vaccinations 24 hours a day, seven days a week on a trial basis in the next 10 days.

He said England was on course to deliver another 1.5 million doses this week. Scotland has delivered a total of more than 224,000 first doses, Wales has given over 126,000 and Northern Ireland nearly 118,000 – although Scotland and Wales do not report figures at the weekend.

Sir Simon added, however, that despite progress with vaccinations, the NHS had never been in a more precarious position, with 75% more Covid patients than at the April peak.

Someone was being admitted to hospital with coronavirus every 30 seconds, Sir Simon said, and since Christmas patient numbers had risen by 15,000 – the equivalent of 30 full hospitals.

Although there were promising signs infection rates were falling, he said they were still too high and rising in some areas and age groups, including the over-60s.

Sir Simon also warned that although starting with the most vulnerable groups reduced the risk of deaths, a quarter of hospital patients with the virus were currently under 55 – and therefore not a priority unless they have a medical condition that puts them at additional risk.

Asked about suggestions that some vaccination centres were having to throw away leftover doses, he said: “The guidance from the chief medical officer is crystal clear: every last drop of vaccine should be used.”

He added many centres were finding they were able to get six doses out of a five-dose vial, and they should keep a reserve list of staff and high-risk patients who could be contacted to receive a vaccination at short notice.

Dr Rosie Shire from the Doctors’ Association UK told the BBC that as well as sometimes getting six doses out of the five-dose Pfizer vials, i was also possible to get 11 or 12 doses out of 10-dose AstraZeneca vials.

But she said the uncertain dose count made it harder to know how many last-minute appointments to book in order to use up the supply.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, meanwhile, said that the UK was making “good progress” in ensuring every adult was offered a vaccine by September and “if it can be done more swiftly, that’s a bonus”.

Mr Raab said that he was not aware of any delays to supplies from manufacturers Pfizer and AstraZeneca, and that he was “confident we have the flexibility” to deliver enough doses.

“It is an enormous challenge. We are meeting it,” he said. “But we take nothing for granted.”

Manchester bombing: Youngest victim could have survived with better first aid

The youngest victim of the Manchester Arena attack might have survived if she had received better first aid, a report commissioned by her family suggests.

Eight-year-old Saffie-Rose Roussos died as a result of losing too much blood from injuries to her legs.

It has emerged that no one used simple tourniquets or splints to apply pressure and reduce the bleeding.

Previously, experts commissioned by the Manchester Arena Inquiry found that Saffie’s injuries were not survivable.

This new information has come to light because lawyers representing the Roussos family commissioned different experts to look into the circumstances of her death. They believe that Saffie might have survived.

For the last three years, Saffie’s parents have believed that she was killed instantly in the explosion. They say they drew comfort from thinking that she had not suffered. Now they have been told that their daughter lived for over an hour, and that opportunities were missed to help her.

The family has also discovered that Saffie asked a paramedic, “am I going to die?” as she was being taken to hospital by ambulance.

Saffie’s father, Andrew Roussos, told the BBC: “She could have been saved.”

He added: “How do we carry on living with this information? How can we carry on breathing with this information?

“I can’t look at Saffie’s picture. Since I’ve read this report, I can’t look at her.”

The new report is based on evidence that includes witness statements, as well as CCTV footage and body-worn cameras from the emergency services.

Previously, the family thought that Saffie died on the floor of the Manchester Arena foyer, where the bomb exploded on 22 May 2017.

Now they have learned that she was not knocked unconscious.

The report has found that, moments after the blast, Saffie lifted her head and tried to push herself up with her arms. She is said to have been given water, and to have asked for her mum.

Several people tried to help Saffie but though she was bleeding heavily from serious leg injuries, nobody used a tourniquet, or splint to apply pressure and reduce the bleeding.

Saffie was lifted onto an advertising hoarding and some railings, which were used as a makeshift stretcher.

She was the first person to be carried out of the foyer, but there was no ambulance outside, and one had to be flagged down.

The report commends the actions of the people who tried to get her to hospital as quickly as possible.

But it has found that the ambulance did not have all the necessary equipment on board.

Distressing detail has emerged about Saffie’s time inside the ambulance.

She is said to have been agitated, and pulling at her oxygen mask. She was able to speak and asked whether she was going to die.

Mr Roussos says: “Medically trained people were with her. And she was asking for help. She knew what was happening. And she bled to death.

“Eight year olds don’t ask those questions. Doesn’t matter how hurt they are, they want their mum. They want to be treated, they want to be out of pain. Not to be in the sound mind to ask the paramedic whether she’s going to die.”

The report has found that the ambulance crew did not use tourniquets or splints on Saffie’s injuries, and neither did the medical team at hospital, when Saffie arrived at A&E.

It also says that it is unclear why the trauma team at the hospital didn’t begin a surgical procedure called a “thoracotomy” to stop the bleeding.

Saffie was pronounced dead at the hospital at 11.40pm, more than an hour after the attack. The report says that because the bleeding was left unchecked, it resulted in a critical level of blood loss to the point at which the heart was no longer able to beat, and it could not be restarted.

Mr Roussos says: “Our medical experts have suggested that there were procedures that Saffie could have had and she didn’t. She was losing that much blood. And there wasn’t a successful procedure in place to get that blood into Saffie – even in A&E. Why?”

The Roussos family say that they cannot understand why two sets of experts have reached different opinions about Saffie’s survivability.

The Manchester Arena Inquiry is about to begin its phase of hearing evidence about the emergency response to the attack, in which 22 people died when a suicide bomb exploded.

In the months ahead, Saffie’s parents will hear evidence from the people who were with their daughter in her last moments.

They have told the BBC that they want the public inquiry to get to the full truth about what happened to their little girl.

Saffie, from Leyland, Lancashire, was at an Ariana Grande concert with her mother, Lisa, and sister, Ashlee Bromwich, when Salman Abedi detonated a bomb in a large foyer filling with people after it ended on 22 May 2017.

The inquiry is looking at whether the attack could have been prevented, what happened on that night, the security arrangements around the arena, the emergency response to the bombing and the radicalisation of bomber Abedi.

Last year the inquiry, which began in September, heard how each of the 22 individual victims died as well as personal evidence about them from their families.

Search scaled down for missing Hove man and his dog

The search for a man went missing with his dog near Hove has been scaled down, Sussex Police said.

Gareth Jones, 69, was last seen on Saturday at about 13:00 GMT at Basin Road South in Southwick.

He is believed to be with his brown cockapoo dog, thought to be wearing a red harness, Sussex Police said.

Police said CCTV footage from the area where Mr Jones was last seen appears to show him and his dog being swept out to sea.

A coastguard helicopter and two RNLI lifeboats began a search just before midnight on Saturday and resumed on Sunday morning.

Mr Jones is described as about 5ft 10in (1.78m) tall, of medium build and bald.

He was wearing a light blue puffer coat, grey tracksuit bottoms with white stripes down the legs and a navy beanie hat, police said.

“Coastguard and lifeboat crews have now been stood down from the search, but police officers and volunteers are continuing to search the coastline,” police said.

Chris Cramer: Tributes paid after former BBC and CNN journalist dies aged 73

Chris Cramer, a major figure in BBC News and later CNN International, has died at the age of 73 after a period of ill health. Former BBC director of news Richard Sambrook looks back at his life.

Chris Cramer’s legacy will be the major change in attitudes and support for journalist safety he championed through the BBC and across the wider industry, as well as many achievements in newsgathering and international news.

He began his career as a teenager on the Portsmouth Evening News, moving to BBC Radio Solent when it launched in 1970.

After a year’s secondment in Brunei he found his way to the BBC TV Newsroom in the 1970s and developed his reputation as a highly competitive and effective news editor and field producer.

In 1980 he and a BBC team were in the Iranian Embassy in London collecting visas when it was seized by gunmen opposed to Ayatollah Khomeini. A standoff and siege followed, with Chris among 26 hostages.

He managed to feign serious illness and was released by the gunmen allowing him to give vital information to the authorities before the SAS stormed the embassy and rescued the hostages.

At a time when no-one understood or spoke of PTSD, it had a marked effect on his life.

Many journalists and crew subsequently spoke of his care and attention when they had difficult experiences and he went on to drive major changes in understanding and support for journalists’ safety.

With BBC Safety manager Peter Hunter, Chris introduced the first hostile environment training courses, risk assessments and equipment for those covering conflicts.

Former correspondent Martin Bell recalls: “From Vietnam to Croatia I had covered 10 wars without protection. Then in June 1992 we were shot up crossing the airport runway in Sarajevo in a soft-skinned vehicle. Within two weeks Chris had procured our first armoured Land Rover, the redoubtable ‘Miss Piggy’, and the body armour to go with it.”

He later introduced the first confidential counselling service for news teams, recognising PTSD, and helped found the International News Safety Institute, which spearheaded safety across the news industry.

During the 1980s he was at the forefront of organising and overseeing major news coverage, including Michael Buerk’s reporting from the Ethiopian famine, coverage of the IRA Brighton bomb attack on the British government, the Zeebrugge ferry disaster, Kate Adie’s reporting from Tiananmen Square, the fall of eastern Europe, the first Gulf War and many more major events.

His fierce competitiveness delivered a series of major exclusives and awards for BBC News.

In the 1990s he oversaw major investment in BBC Newsgathering and the integration of radio and TV reporting – often against internal resistance. His managerial style could be uncompromising and tough, but he was also bitingly funny, shrewd and his hard exterior hid a warm-hearted and generous core.

He was crucial to establishing the integrated News division as it exists today.

In 1996 he left the BBC to move to Atlanta as managing director and executive vice-president of CNN International.

There he took his passion for news safety and his competitive news edge to develop the network into a greater global force.

As his former BBC and CNN colleague Tony Maddox has said: “Among his many accomplishments Chris was a pioneer and innovator in field safety for journalists. He led the development of guidelines and practices now widely adopted across the industry.”

He was a larger-than-life figure who generated affection and respect in equal measure, often wielding a rapid and disarming wit.

He is also remembered for supporting women into senior and executive positions and helping them succeed.

Director of BBC News Fran Unsworth recalls: “He was one of journalism’s enormous characters and a legend in the television news industry. But the legend and the reported image always belied the man.

“He was immensely kind, thoughtful and caring underneath that image he sometimes projected.”

Former deputy director general Mark Byford said: “He was probably the greatest newsgathering executive ever in the broadcast news business and his organisational skills, competitiveness, eye for a story and steel were extraordinary.

“He was also, behind the facade, a gentle giant who cared for his people with amazing passion and love.”

Many editors, correspondents and presenters in BBC News owe their success to his mentorship – myself included.

After 11 years he left CNN and took up roles first with Reuters TV and then the Wall Street Journal, where his experience and expertise were used to develop their digital video services.

He leaves his wife, Nina, son Richard and daughter Nicolette and his daughter Hannah by an earlier marriage to Helen, a former BBC producer.

Phil Spector: Pop producer jailed for murder dies at 81

US music producer Phil Spector has died at the age of 81, while serving a prison sentence for murder.

Spector, who transformed pop with his “wall of sound” recordings, worked with the Beatles, the Righteous Brothers and Ike and Tina Turner.

In 2009, he was convicted of the 2003 murder of Hollywood actress Lana Clarkson.

His death was confirmed by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

“California Health Care Facility inmate Phillip Spector was pronounced deceased of natural causes at 6:35 p.m. on Saturday, January 16, 2021, at an outside hospital. His official cause of death will be determined by the medical examiner in the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office,” it said.

Spector produced 20 top 40 hits between 1961 and 1965, AFP news agency reports. His production methods influenced major artists including the Beach Boys and Bruce Springsteen.

His life was ultimately blighted by drug and alcohol addiction, and he all but retired from the music scene during the 1980s and 1990s.

In February 2003, actress Lana Clarkson was found dead at his house in Alhambra, California with a bullet wound to her head.

Spector claimed the shooting happened when Clarkson “kissed the gun” – but his trial heard from four women who claimed Spector had threatened them with guns in the past when they had spurned his advances.

Following an initial mistrial, Spector was convicted of second degree murder and given a sentence of 19 years to life.

Covid-19: Man said he had travelled 100 miles for a McDonalds

A man told police he had driven from Luton to Devizes to visit a McDonald’s, even though the town does not have a branch of the burger chain.

Wiltshire Police called his actions a “flagrant breach” of lockdown regulations and fined the man £200.

The 34-year-old was stopped on Estcourt Street in Devizes, a distance of more than 100 miles (160km) from Luton.

His car was also seized for having no insurance, police added.

“The distance travelled across numerous counties to Devizes, which doesn’t have a McDonald’s restaurant, is a flagrant breach of the regulations currently in place.

“The majority of people across Wiltshire continue to act responsibly and we thank you for that, however, it is important to protect the NHS that we all stick to the rules,” said police.

The man was stopped on Thursday evening.

Eurostar: Government urged to safeguard rail firms future

A group of London business leaders has written to the government calling for financial support for the struggling rail firm Eurostar.

In a letter to the Treasury and Department for Transport, they urge “swift action to safeguard its future”.

Bosses of firms such as Fortnum & Mason signed the letter asking for access to government loans and business rates relief “at the very least”.

The government says it is “working closely” with Eurostar.

The cross-Channel rail company is threatened by a large drop in passenger numbers due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions.

It reported in November that passenger numbers had been down 95% since March 2020.

With two trains an hour normally scheduled in peak hours, it now runs just two services a day from London to Paris and Brussels.

The letter, seen by the BBC, describes the firm as one that has “fallen through the cracks”. Unlike some airlines, it has not been eligible for government-backed loans.

“If this viable business is allowed to fall between the cracks of support – neither an airline, nor a domestic railway – our recovery could be damaged,” it says.

Co-signed by 28 leaders, including the vice-chancellor of Middlesex University, the chief executive of West End property company Shaftesbury, as well as the boss of the ExCeL conference centre, the letter points out that the company currently employs 1,200 people in the UK.

The firm is 60% owned by French state rail firm SNCF. The UK government sold its stake in the business to private companies for £757m in 2015.

The letter also credits Eurostar with reducing carbon emissions. Since it launched in 1994, it has transported more than 190 million passengers between Britain and mainland Europe.

A spokesman for Eurostar said: “Without additional funding from government there is a real risk to the survival of Eurostar, the green gateway to Europe.

He described the current situation as “very serious”.

A spokesman for the Department for Transport said: “We recognise the significant financial challenges facing Eurostar as a result of Covid-19 and the unprecedented circumstances currently faced by the international travel industry.”

He added the government had been in contact with Eurostar “on a regular basis” since the start of the coronavirus crisis and would continue to work closely with the firm.

Gulf War veteran John Nichol thought the war would be averted

A former RAF navigator captured and tortured during the Gulf War said he had believed the war would be averted.

This year is the 30th anniversary of Operation Desert Storm, the military operation to drive Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi forces from Kuwait.

John Nichol, from North Tyneside, was shot down in one of the first aerial bombing missions.

“We thought that the politicians, the diplomats, would sort of all of this crisis out,” he said.

“Even in the days before the war when there were something like half a million allied troops and half a million Iraqi troops ranged in the desert in different positions, facing each other, I think many of us still thought that peace would prevail and there would be no need for an armed conflict.”

Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein invaded neighbouring Kuwait in August 1990.

He refused to comply with a United Nations deadline to withdraw troops and, in the early hours of 17 January 1991, the US, Britain and allies began an aerial bombardment.

Mr Nichol and his pilot John Peters were shot down and captured during one of the first low-level daylight raids and later paraded on Iraqi television.

“It was my one and only attack of the Gulf War,” Mr Nichol said.

“Eventually, after some pretty brutal treatment, we appeared on Iraqi TV and then spent the rest of the war as prisoners of war.”

The military campaign forced Iraq to withdraw but estimates suggest between 60,000 and 200,000 Iraqi soldiers were killed and up to 200,000 civilians died as a direct result of the war.

“We did exactly what was asked of us and, of course, many good men and women gave their lives and, for me, you should never forget that,” Mr Nichol said.

Coronavirus: Concerns over bosses breaking Covid safety rules

Concerns have been raised about employees forced to go into workplaces that are not Covid-compliant during lockdown.

Between 6 and 14 January, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) received 2,945 complaints about safety issues.

The head of the UK’s unions called for ministers to crack down on employers “who break Covid safety rules”.

The HSE said it had scaled up its work to check and support firms during the pandemic.

The Observer reports that no companies have been prosecuted and fined for breaking workplace coronavirus safety rules since the start of the latest national lockdown in England, although a spokeswoman for the HSE said figures on enforcement action, which can include verbal advice or a written warning, cannot be verified until Monday.

She added that its inspectors “continue to be out and about, putting employers on the spot and checking that they are complying with health and safety law”.

The HSE has introduced telephone spot-checks in response to the coronavirus crisis, she said.

“We continue to scale up the number of spot check calls and visits we are doing so we can reach as many businesses as possible during the current lockdown period.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “If the government is upping enforcement, ministers should start with employers who break Covid safety rules.”

She also called for an increase in resources for the HSE “to stop rogue employers getting away with putting staff at risk. Every employer needs to know an inspection could happen any time”.

The HSE has carried out more than 32,300 site visits during the pandemic.

The government should also make it clear that everyone who can work from home should do so, Ms O’Grady added.

Under current lockdown restrictions, people across the UK who can work effectively from home should do so. They should only travel to their workplace if they cannot do their job remotely.

This includes healthcare professionals, teachers, childcare providers, transport workers, people who work in construction or manufacturing, funeral directors, and essential retail workers.

For workplaces that remain open in England, employers must “carry out an appropriate Covid-19 risk assessment” to develop a “specific” strategy to stop the virus’s spread.

In England, guidelines set out strict measures which employers must follow, such as minimising the number of unnecessary visits to the office, frequent cleaning of workspaces and ensuring that staff observe 2m (6ft) social distancing wherever possible.

There is similar guidance for employers across a range of sectors in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Read more from our Explainers team here.

A recent survey conducted by the Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) also suggests that some staff have faced pressure to return to the workplace despite a recent positive coronavirus test.

Of 1,172 UK workers surveyed, four in 10 said they had worked within 10 days of a positive result.

More than 10% of respondents also said they had been ordered on-site when they could have “easily” and “safely” worked from home.

Brian (not his real name), works cleaning portable toilets on construction sites in south-east England.

He told BBC Radio 5 Live that he does not feel safe, but feels “forced to carry on working so I can pay my bills”.

On the site he works at most of the time, he hasn’t seen a “vast amount of mask-wearing” and says that he has been laughed at for wearing his face mask and visor.

“It’s really demoralising because you’re laughed at anyway because of the job you’re in.”

He says the situation is “50% worse” than when construction sites were closed during England’s first national lockdown.

Due to his and his wife’s worries, he asked if he could be furloughed, but his firm said that he would only be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay.

“Morale is on the floor,” he says.

Alan Lockey, head of the RSA’s future work programme, suggested that workers “feel forced to put themselves and others at risk of the virus” because of insecure work and pressure from bosses.

He also called on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to end the “trade-off between health and putting food on the table” by allowing self-isolating workers to access the government’s furlough scheme and maintaining the £20-per-week uplift in universal credit, which is due to expire in April.

BBC News has requested comment from the Treasury.