The government’s former homelessness guru has criticised the Boris Johnson administration for risking the country entering a period of destitution, with private renters amongst the most hard hit.
The government has pledged to pay two-thirds of wages from November for employees of firms forced to close under some of the latest Coronovairus restrictions.
But Dame Louise Casey said this reduced level of support would not "cut it” and she told the BBC in an interview that: "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.’ There's this sense from Downing Street and from Westminster that people will make do. Well, they weren't coping before Covid."
The furlough scheme ends in two weeks time and thereafter the new Jobs Support Scheme means employees at firms ordered to close completely will get 67 per cent of wages of their usual salary paid - up to a maximum of £2,100 a month.
"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” says Casey.
"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 criticised Chancellor Rishi Sunak for saying those on the lowest wages could also claim Universal Credit to "compensate for a good chunk" of lost earnings.
In the BBC interview Casey said it was "unprecedented for a Conservative chancellor to say 'well, don't worry, go on to Universal Credit’ That's not necessarily what you'd expect from a Conservative chancellor, who should be about jobs and about keeping people in employment.”