Covid-19: Recovery Strategies - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:07 pm on 11th June 2020.

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Photo of Baroness Kramer Baroness Kramer Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Treasury and Economy) 1:07 pm, 11th June 2020

The horrific killing of George Floyd has forced us to confront race injustice, which must be tackled in the economy we build for the future—just as much as we tackle climate change, Brexit, Covid, generational injustice, regional inequalities and the fourth industrial revolution. I challenge every business to embed diversity and the Government to require every public company to put social and environmental stewardship on a par with shareholder returns. A shift to a green economy is urgent as we run out of time to limit climate change, and I support the proposals my noble friend Lord Oates will detail in this debate.

I turn to the gig economy, because I anticipate that many who have lost or will lose their jobs will turn to self-employment. As the IFS has said, they will be primarily the young, low-skilled and poorly paid—it could have added BAME—workers. The Government must at once implement the Taylor review and remove the abuses within the gig economy. Flexibility for a company should not equate to an absence of rights for a worker. We will need new approaches, such as portable benefits, minimum hours and a tax system that recognises risk.

Secondly, we cannot again face an abyss or allow so many to. The Government need to sign up to the universal basic services agenda, including in housing, to put a proper floor in place for everyone. That would also encourage creativity, innovation and risk-taking, which are vital to our future.

Lastly, in dealing with Brexit we must not take a “charge of the Light Brigade” approach. A senseless order must be countermanded and an effective negotiating strategy put in place to conclude transition, even if it means an extension.