Rishi Sunak acuused of writing off a million jobs as sectors put on 'scrap heap'

Labour last night accused Rishi Sunak of writing off more than a million jobs.

The party claimed the Chancellor has consigned “to the scrap heap” workers in worst-hit industries.

Outlining his Winter Economic Plan last week, Mr Sunak vowed to try and protect posts in “viable” sectors.

Under the Job Support Scheme, which replaces the furlough scheme, taxpayers will top-up wages of employees working at least a third of their normal hours.

But the Chancellor admitted he was unable to save every job – prompting fears of mass redundancies.

Rishi Sunak announced a new jobs support scheme in the Commons last week – but refused to bow to calls to extend the more generous furlough programme

Labour said he “failed to mention businesses that are not able to operate, because they are either shut down completely or trading with hugely reduced capacity”.

Using Office for National Statistics figures, the party highlighted a string of affected sectors, saying there were 42,000 event caterers, 11,000 exhibition organisers, and 18,000 people running conferences unable to return to work.

It said 90,000 people work in creative, arts and entertainment sectors; and 500,000 people in the wedding industry including caterers, florists, photographers, dressmakers and beauticians.

It pointed to 69,000 people employed in nightclubs, 428,000 in pubs and bars and 369,000 in the sports sector.

All are either banned from reopening or operating with tight restrictions.

Shadow Business Minister Lucy Powell said: “The Chancellor is consigning whole sectors of our economy to the scrap heap, damaging lives and livelihoods, and threatening the recovery.

Shadow Business Minister Lucy Powell said workers in some sectors were being consigned ‘to the scrap heap’ by the Chancellor

“The failure of Ministers to ensure an effective test, track and trace system means that many businesses have no idea when they can reopen.

“The decision to shut these firms out of the Job Support Scheme adds insult to injury.”

Shadow Culture Secretary Jo Stevens added: “The UK’s cultural sector is a critical part of our national identity – not to mention a valuable part of the economy.

“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.

“The sector is braced for a winter of further job losses.”

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden defended the Government’s latest rescue package.

“I’m not denying the challenges here,” he told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show.

“These are very difficult decisions we’re having to take as a government and I’m acutely mindful of the economic costs that this has and we’ve already seen 700,000 jobs lost across the economy, but ultimately we have taken a decision as a government that we need to protect lives by taking these further measures but we’re also working with the Chancellor and others to ensure the support is there and you saw some more of that last week.

“Of course there are challenges with bringing back arts, and it is worth saying that we have brought back a socially distanced theatre.

“I know that doesn’t work for a large part of the sector – that is why we’ve got the biggest ever single investment in arts and culture with £1.5billion pound fund support.

“That is larger than any other country around the world.”

Conservative Party chairwoman Amanda Milling said: “We know that many people are worried about their future, which is why the Chancellor has put in place a Winter Economy Plan to support jobs and businesses.

“This is in addition to one of the most comprehensive packages of support in the world – worth £190 billion so far.”


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