• Watch a video report about the Labour leader's visit to Harlow by ITV News Anglia's Hannah Pettifer


In a visit to Essex on Thursday, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the government could not afford the "dead weight" of the Job Retention Bonus scheme.

While at Harlow engineering firm Beard and Fitch, he said: "We are living through an unprecedented crisis so the government is right to act. Our concern is that the action they have taken isn't focused on the right places."

The Job Retention Bonus would see bosses given a £1,000 bonus for every furloughed employee kept in work until January 2021. 


  • Sir Keir Starmer criticises the newly announced Job Retention Bonus scheme

"The Job Retention Bonus is a bonus for all jobs - many of those jobs, many of the people would have been brought back in any event," Sir Starmer added.

"Some are really at risk of losing their jobs, so we say it should have been targeted in the areas that most need it, not across the piece."

Sir Starmer was joined by shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Bridget Phillipson MP. Credit: PA Images

On Thursday morning, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the money being offered to businesses that keep on furloughed staff would be a "dead weight" cost, as some employers who intend to retain workers anyway would benefit.

Sir Keir said: "We can't afford dead weight, we need the money to go where it is absolutely needed most and that's those jobs that won't be retained if the Government doesn't support them."