The jobs crisis will become more intense unless the Chancellor puts further support in place, Labour has warned.
Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds said she was “very concerned” by Rishi Sunak’s speech to the virtual Tory Party Conference on Monday.
She called for targeted support to be put in place as the end of the furlough scheme, at the end of the month, draws closer.
The Chancellor just spoke for 10 minutes, but he had nothing new to say.
❌No new targeted support for millions facing the furlough cliff edge❌Nothing new for the self-employed❌Nothing for those excluded so far
He just blew his chance to get a grip on Britain’s jobs crisis.
— Anneliese Dodds (@AnnelieseDodds) October 5, 2020
“We are in the middle of a jobs crisis,” said Ms Dodds.
“It’s particularly acute for those people who are living in areas under localised restrictions, and the Chancellor didn’t even mention the fact that many parts of our country are covered by those restrictions.
“There are about a million people who are still on the furlough in areas either under restrictions or on the watch list for them.
“They really needed to hear something from the Chancellor today and they didn’t get anything so I really hope he will be looking again at the need for that localised support.”
Speaking during a visit to an injection moulding plant in Southend-on-Sea in Essex, she said: “I’m surprised that we didn’t hear from the Chancellor today about support for areas subject to localised restrictions.
“We’re talking about almost a third of the country now which is affected by those restrictions – very large numbers of people supported through the furlough scheme but who are unlikely to benefit from the Chancellor’s other wage support scheme, which isn’t going to incentivise lots of employers to keep people on.
“It looks like the jobs crisis will become more intense unless the Chancellor acts.”
She added that now is not the time for tax rises.
“We’re in the middle of the deepest recession for 300 years.
“According to the Government’s own figures, we could be seeing four million people unemployed by the end of the year.
“What the Chancellor’s got to concentrate on is keeping as many people in work as possible, getting those who are out of work back into work, not on immediately right now changing the tax system.
“He’s got to be focused on that jobs crisis.”
She went on: “We don’t think that the furlough scheme as it stands can be continued forever. That simply doesn’t make sense.
“We have called for a wage support scheme to incentivise employers to keep employees on their books.
“Unfortunately, what the Government’s put forward is just not doing that because actually it’s cheaper for employers under their scheme to let people go than to actually keep them on part-time.
“Their scheme is not working, they need to change. We, as the Opposition, stand ready to work with Government to get a wage support scheme in place that will actually help people to stay in work.”
She continued: “We can’t see ad infinitum borrowing going on, intensifying over time, but what we really need the Chancellor to do now is to be protecting jobs, stopping businesses from going to the wall, and getting people who are unemployed back into work.
“Unfortunately he’s not done enough to guarantee that.
“If he does manage to keep that economic activity going then any issue around debt will be easier to deal with in future because the tax base will ultimately be larger.
“But he’s not been focusing on that jobs crisis now, and that’s what really concerns me.”
She added that there was “nothing from the Chancellor today to suggest that he grasped the magnitude of the jobs crisis we’re facing”.