Labour has accused Rishi Sunak of throwing one hundred thousand North West jobs on the ‘scrap heap’ in his Winter Economy Plan.
The Chancellor confirmed the conclusion of the furlough scheme last week.
Whilst admitting he could “not save every job”, Sunak said he would be introducing a new six-month plan that would see the government top up wages of “viable” roles in winter.
But Labour has retorted that the support package is “fundamentally flawed” – with industries such as weddings, events, nigthlife, music, arts and sports remaining largely closed and therefore unable to access funding (employers must offer staff at least a third of their usual hours under the new regime).
Labour also argued that the new plan actually makes it cheaper to bring back one employee full-time and fire the other, offering little incentive to keep two part-time staff on board.
Lucy Powell MP, Shadow Minister for Business and Consumers, said: “The Chancellor is consigning whole sectors of our economy to the scrap heap, damaging lives and livelihoods, and threatening the recovery. The failure of Ministers to ensure an effective Test, Track and Trace system means that many businesses are still fully or partially shut down. The decision to shut these firms out of the Job Support Scheme adds insult to injury.
“Labour has called for the government to come forward with an effective plan to recover jobs, retrain workers and rebuild businesses. This isn’t it. Even for those who can access it, the Job Support Scheme is badly designed and could lead to a wave of job losses, because the Chancellor’s sums do not add up for businesses. He must think again, before the jobs crisis reaches tipping point.”
Despite generate billions in tax revenue and employ millions of workers, Labour is predicting the sectors hit hardest will be:
- Nightlife – including 6,000 people employed in nightclubs, 42,000 people employed in pubs and bars.
- Events – including 15,000 event caterers, 950 people organising and running exhibitions and conferences.
- Arts – including theatres and cinemas still shut-down or operating at reduced capacity employing 4,000 people.
- Weddings – The number of wedding guests allowed has been halved from 30 to 15, which will hit at least 70,000 weddings. This could cost an estimated £4.8bn, with 127,000 nuptials postponed to 2021.
- Sports – employing 48,000 people.
Labour has also said that in the North West specifically, nearly 900 nightclubs, 80 cinemas, 4,540 pubs/bars and 1,750 arts venues will not be able to get the support they need from the Winter Plan.
Whilst some have praised the Chancellor’s latest efforts to protect jobs and prevent mass unemployment in Britain, others feel the measures do not go far enough.
People in the hospitality sector – which must now shut at 10pm – have accused the government of unfairly targeting their industry during the pandemic.
The Treasury argued, however, that keeping industries afloat is highest on their agenda.
“Supporting jobs is our absolute priority, which is why we set out a range of new measures on Thursday including the job support scheme to protect millions of jobs, extending the self-employment income support scheme and 15% VAT cut for the hospitality and tourism sectors, and help for businesses in repaying government-backed loans,” they said in a statement.
Shadow Culture Secretary Jo Stevens said that industries were bracing themselves for a winter of further job losses.
“The UK’s cultural sector is a critical part of our national identity – not to mention a valuable part of the economy,” the MP stated.
“These are skilled, specialist jobs in an industry that had been growing until the covid crisis hit.
“So far the government has promised money to prop up our theatres and concert halls but it’s the people who work in them who are suffering and who are excluded from government help.”