Shadow chancellor calls for more government action to protect jobs
Labour shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds has said that more support is required from the government to prevent further job losses as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The government’s Job Retention Scheme, which has seen over nine million UK workers furloughed, is due to end in October, but Dodds believes that it and similar schemes must be extended in areas of the UK where localised lockdowns are forced to continue to stem the rate of coronavirus infection.
Dodds urged the government to ditch what she called a “one-size-fits-all” economic approach to help protect jobs, ahead of chancellor Rishi Sunak’s latest economic statement which is due to be delivered on Wednesday.
In Wednesday’s statement, Sunak is expected to lay out an economic support package, while prime minister Boris Johnson has already outlined his “project speed” recovery plan and pledged to accelerate infrastructure investment with a £5 billion “new deal” to generate “thousands of high-paid, high-skilled jobs” and build more homes.
Johnson also made reference to an “opportunity guarantee” when announcing the plans, to ensure that young people have apprenticeship and placement opportunities.
However, these announcements have not prevented many UK firms having to cut jobs, with numerous firms announcing plans this week to offload staff.
As the furlough scheme winds down from the beginning of August, firms are expected to once more begin paying National Insurance and pension contributions for employees. In September, they will then be required to pay ten per cent of the salaries of furloughed employees, which in October will then rise to 20 per cent before the scheme lapses.
The prime minister has been clear that the furlough scheme must end in October as planned, warning that it would not be “healthy” to run it any further.
But Dodds stressed that employees within sectors that are continuing to struggle “should not be treated the same way” as industries which have returned to full capacity, and urged Sunak to ensure any projects included within government plans are carbon neutral to help ensure a green recovery.
She said: "To avoid the same flood of redundancy notices for workers within smaller companies later on this month, government must act now".
In response to Dodds’ views, Conservative Party co-chairman Amanda Milling said that the government had put together a “clear plan” to both “protect and create jobs”.