BLACKBURN MP Kate Hollern has called for the government to extend its ‘furlough’ scheme in the town where eight wards are still in local semi–lockdown.

She told junior Treasury minister John Glen keeping the subsidy for the wages of laid-off staff beyond its end date of October 31 was vital to protect jobs and stop businesses going bust.

Since August 23 the eight wards in the borough have been under tight local special measures.

And on Wednesday the government tightened the rules on social distancing across England.

Mrs Hollern told Mr Glen: “Parts of Blackburn are still under local lockdown.

“The impact of the pandemic has taken its toll on local residents and businesses, and of course, the council," Mrs Hollern said.

“The government is refusing to recognise that additional support is needed in areas with additional lockdowns.

“I am not sure whether they are incompetent or wilfully neglecting areas in local lockdown," the MP added.

"They provide support to some areas, but it is very sparse across East Lancashire.

“It is also nonsense to say that specific sectors, some of which have only just opened and others that have opened in a limited capacity, do not require additional support.

“The Chancellor’s decision to withdraw wage support for jobs, particularly in Blackburn, is making matters worse. It is clear that the government’s one-size-fits-all approach does not work," she added

“Instead, the government should be giving support where it is needed most, not withdrawing it in one go.

“No one here is asking for a permanent handout, but cutting off support for every worker in the country from October - no matter whet - is equivalent to pulling the plug at the worst possible time.

“If the government is serious about protecting jobs, high streets, councils and services, it needs a targeted approach to further support in areas such as Blackburn that are still suffering additional lockdowns,” she said.

Mr Glen said: “The government has acted decisively to protect people’s livelihoods and support businesses, with one of the most generous and comprehensive responses in the world.

“In the short run, that has been absolutely the right strategy but over the medium term it is clearly not sustainable.

“The government certainly is not saying ‘job done’. We know that there is more we need to do to protect jobs and businesses,” the minister added.