The Chancellor was confronted by the BBC Breakfast host over his latest budget announcement as Naga Munchetty claimed the job retention bonus have benefited from a more targeted approach. But Rishi Sunak hit back: “I actually think it will make a significant difference, it is something that people were actually interested in calling for. Given the income distribution of those on furlough, we know that £1,000 can be a significant reward and incentive to employers to successfully bring staff back and continuously employ them.
“I think actually having a broad offer to all those 9 million people is the right thing to do.
“In situations like this and throughout the crisis, I’ve always had a choice between whether to act at speed and at scale, given the severity of what we’re facing, or to do things in a more nuanced and targeted way.
“And in an ideal world, you would do that. But the problem with doing things in a more targeted and nuanced way is it takes a lot longer.
“We don’t have necessarily the luxury of time when you’re dealing with a crisis of this magnitude.
“So I’ve been on the side of a broader approach, I think that is the right thing to do.
“I would make the same decisions again.
“And I’m sure if we had a more targeted approach in this instance you’d probably have me on this show saying ‘well, why are these people excluded?”‘
The Chancellor said the Government’s support plan is one of the “most comprehensive and generous set of interventions” in the world, but acknowledged some people would still be badly affected.
After outlining the schemes announced on Wednesday, Mr Sunak told BBC Breakfast: “The analysis we published yesterday which shows the totality of what we’ve done demonstrates very clearly that the lowest income households are the ones who have been supported the most by everything we have done but I would acknowledge that this has been a period of extreme hardship for many people and indeed hardship lies ahead.”
Mr Sunak was later asked about self-employed curtain fitter Mark Whittaker, who said he was severely struggling and felt abandoned as he was not eligible for the self-employment support scheme.
Mr Sunak said the scheme had helped 2.5 million people and later added: “If you’re saying to me there are individual people who are suffering hardship as a result of what’s happened then I completely agree and I sympathise with that, it is not possible to ensure that every single person is not impacted by what’s happening.
“We’ve shut our country and economy down for months on end, that is sadly going to have a significant impact and I’ve consistently been honest with people that hardship lies ahead and that’s why we’ve tried to mitigate as much of that hardship as possible.
“Are we going to be able to mitigate all of it for every single person? Of course not, but when I look at the totality of what we’ve done, I do know that it stacks up as being one of the most comprehensive and generous set of interventions out of any country in the world.”
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On Wednesday, Mr Sunak announced a sweeping package of measures on Wednesday including giving firms which have furloughed staff a £1,000 bonus to keep workers in jobs.
While warning that “hardship lies ahead”, he insisted no-one will be left “without hope”, as he revealed plans to cut stamp duty, slash VAT on food, accommodation and attractions to 5% and give diners a discount to support pubs and restaurants.
Speaking in the Commons Mr Sunak said his plan would help protect livelihoods after the economy contracted by 25 percent in just two months.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies will give its initial analysis of the summer economic update on Thursday.