Sunak's summer statement must prioritise jobs

Ian Mean
Director of Business West Gloucestershire | Business West
7th July 2020

Last week we had Boris Johnson shouting “build, build, build” to get our beleaguered coronavirus hit economy going again.

I was underwhelmed, I don’t know about you? High on rhetoric but low on detail.

Tomorrow, however, the shouting from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak as he addresses the Commons with his min-Budget must be : “jobs, jobs, jobs”.

Nothing more. Nothing less.

The Chancellor is very aware that unemployment - particularly among our young people - is a ticking time bomb.

The figures are scary.

Here in Gloucestershire, the May figures alone had over 76,000 employees on the furlough scheme - a large proportion of their wages paid by the government.

And it’s frightening to think that those monitoring these figures tell me that 40 percent of those 76,000 people could actually be made redundant here in the 

county as the furlough scheme tapers down and stops at the end of October.

The great unknown is, of course, how much unemployment we will be left with nationally.

XpertHR, the employment consultancy, according to David Smith in the Sunday Times surveyed nearly 200 employers and found that 1 in 10 furloughed workers are set to lose their jobs by the end of August.

It’s difficult to second guess what the Chancellor will announce but here goes.

Top of my list must come our young people. There must be a financial incentive for companies to take on apprentices.

The government’s apprenticeship scheme has fallen off a cliff, and with major redundancies threatened in the hospitality area particularly, our young school, college and university leavers will find themselves marooned in a jobs quagmire if support is not given urgently.

And there must be money for a major re-training and re-skilling programme developed very quickly to ensure that people made redundant have a fighting chance to get into the jobs that are going to be available in our post-COVID economy.

Ideally, the very successful furlough scheme should be “flipped” so there are grants for companies to retain staff in certain high-risk sectors.

Business rates, the scourge of companies - especially our struggling high street shops -should be reformed or scrapped.

Jobs, jobs, jobs must now be the government’s clarion call. Nothing is more important.

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