CAROLINE Lucas has warned that the chancellor Rishi Sunak’s new winter economy plan will leave millions of self-employed workers “facing a winter of misery”.

He unveiled the new measures on Thursday as he laid out the next phase of the government’s economic response to the coronavirus crisis.

But the Brighton Pavilion MP said he had ignored the arts, culture and events sectors.

With the furlough scheme ending on October 31, Mr Sunak unveiled a “job support scheme” which will see the government “directly support” the wages of people in viable jobs working at least a third of their normal hours. It will run for six months, starting in November.

The existing self-employment grant will also be extended, VAT will be kept at five per cent for the hospitality and tourism industries until March next year and a “pay as you grow” scheme will allow firms to repay bounce back loans over a period of up to ten years.

But former Green party leader Ms Lucas said his measures did not go far enough to protect certain workers in the UK from financial turmoil.

She said: “The chancellor’s winter economy plan shows he has listened to some warnings but left his fingers firmly in his ears over others.

“It’s right that he acknowledged that a cliff-edge ending to the job furlough scheme would have been disastrous for millions, and the job support scheme is a sensible alternative.

“At last this Government recognises that there are useful lessons to learn from other countries and is borrowing some of the ideas of the German support scheme.

“I have long campaigned for a permanent cut to VAT in tourism and hospitality, which are vital to Brighton’s economy, so I welcome the extension until April.

“But it is not only these sectors which are particularly hard hit by Covid. So are the arts, culture and events sectors and there was nothing for them. This will hit workers in Brighton very hard.

“But for all his assurances about seeking ‘parity’ between the employed and self-employed, he still has nothing to offer the more than three million self-employed who have been unjustifiably excluded from any support for the past six months. They now face a winter of misery, already pushed into debt and with little prospect of any recovery in the coming months.

“We heard several times the need to support ‘viable jobs’. It’s not enough to support jobs which are viable in the short term. He needs to invest in long-term viable jobs, those that are essential for the transition to a carbon-free economy.”

“The Prime Minister told the UN General Assembly on Thursday that commitment to tackling the climate emergency must not be lost to Covid. This crisis should be the accelerator to dealing with the climate and nature crises, with investment in a greener, fairer economy and the jobs which will build it.”