Last week the Chancellor made a statement that was supposed to kick-start the economy. There simply was not enough in there for our region.
Manchester is facing a looming jobs crisis, as the furlough scheme unwinds and businesses operate with severe restrictions.
In the North West of England:
· 828,900 people are furloughed, equivalent to around 23.29% of the workforce
· 224,000 people are using the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, around 6.29% of the workforce
· 348,794 people are claiming Universal Credit and other out of work benefits, equivalent to 9% of the working-age population and a rise of 112.01% since February.
My Labour colleagues and I have spent the last few weeks calling on the Chancellor to produce an emergency ‘Back to Work’ budget with a focus on jobs, jobs, jobs.
Instead, we were offered a meal deal from the Chancellor.
Whilst the meal deal voucher scheme is nice, we know that customers will only return to the high street when they are confident the virus is under control. This requires a functioning track and trace system, and a clear framework for local lockdowns.
The Chancellor will also begin to undo the good work of the furlough scheme as the Government begins a blanket withdrawal in just a few weeks.
Although he has made an offer to firms, giving £1,000 for any workers they retain until January, this will be of little to comfort to those making painful redundancy decisions now.
The hardest hit sectors that rely on social interaction and an influx of tourists are facing months of uncertainty.
The food and accommodation sector, which supports roughly 244,491 jobs in the North West, saw output fall by nearly 92% between February and April. Of the nearly quarter of a million workers in this sector, an estimated 163,809 are currently furloughed and face an uncertain future as the scheme is withdrawn in a matter of weeks.
Meanwhile, the arts, entertainment, and recreation sectors saw output cut almost in half. These sectors are believed to support over 100,00 jobs in the North West alone, however an estimated 71,523 workers are currently furloughed and again face an uncertain future as the Government presses on with the blanket withdrawal from August.