UK unemployment claimants soars to 2.1m – as lockdown hits young workers
British Treasury Secretary Rishi Sunak has been warned by leaders of Britain’s most influential business and trade union groups that he risks plunging the UK into the chaos of mass unemployment if he does not extend the paid leave scheme..
Before the budget was passed on March 3, industrialists and trade unions told the Treasury chief that the UK economy was too fragile to end the wage subsidy scheme at the end of April, and that he risked undercutting efforts to protect jobs over the past year if he took that step..
Francis O’Grady, The TUC secretary general said Sunak should not wait for the budget to pass but should immediately announce that paid leave, which has so far cost the Treasury nearly £ 50bn (about $ 68bn), will remain in place for the rest of the year. The government has a moral obligation to prevent unemployment from returning to 1980s levels, she said..
«This would be in violation of any government’s duty [not to extend vacations]. No one should think that it is acceptable for any government to put people on the line for unemployment benefits, said O’Grady. – The government needs to understand that we need to return to growth, and for this we need people working in their workplaces. Otherwise, we will face real deep economic and social problems.».
Director General of the British Chamber of Commerce Adam Marshall called for extended vacations from April to July and said that the finance minister should not be misled into thinking that the planned phased relaxation of isolation restrictions means that business problems have been resolved.
«What you can’t do is say that once the vaccine is deployed, everything will be fine. This is beside the point. You are in serious trouble with your business and there is still the potential for outbreaks of the virus. This is not the case when you just need to get vaccinated and forget about it.», – he said.
Sounding the alarm as the government develops a roadmap to ease Covid restrictions this spring, the British Trade Union Congress (TUC) and British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) told the Guardian that a long-term plan is needed to repair the damage done to the economy by the triple lockdown and the largest annual cut in economy for 300 years.
Leave extensions are also a central requirement of the British Confederation of Industrialists (CBI) prior to budgeting. Chief Economist, Lobbying Group Rhine Newton-Smith said the announcement was necessary «sooner rather than later».
«If the government suddenly stopped him, it would almost certainly influence job decisions, just as we see hope on the horizon.», – she said.
Alerts come when the Guardian launches a series of in-depth articles on the impact of the pandemic on employment in the UK, with millions of workers on vacation as coronavirus infections remain high and layoffs are growing at the fastest rate in history..
Government Boris Johnson is developing plans to ease Covid restrictions this spring. Sunak remained open to the possibility of new support measures reflecting longer constraints than originally anticipated, but Oh’Grady warned that there appears to be an ideological battle in the cabinet over how to support the UK economic recovery from the crisis.
«Downsizing now would be a waste of all this effort, and it would simply be indecent to limit unemployment to an entire generation – especially young people.», – she said.
As a flagship government job support program, paid vacation has spread to nearly 10 million jobs since its launch last March and is due to close at the end of April after several extensions. However, the UK Treasury’s own independent economic forecaster, the Office of Fiscal Responsibility, said unemployment could spiral up to 2.7 million by the summer, more than double its pre-pandemic level..
The government’s concern about the possibility of a spring spike in unemployment was highlighted by the announcement by the Labor and Pensions Department of a new financial support scheme designed to help 160,000 unemployed find work..
After announcing the action on Wednesday, the employment secretary Teresa Coffey stated that the launch plan «digital job transactions» will help job seekers improve their interviewing skills and provide tips to help people get back to work quickly.
«Our Jobs Plan helps us build better and more equitably, gain employment support for people who need it across the UK, and opportunities to improve.», – she said.
The prime minister said the rapid roll-out of the Covid vaccine will be the government’s most powerful economic recovery tool, loosening tight controls. Sunak dismissed demands for further economic support last month, saying the Treasury Department has spent more than £ 280bn so far, while suggesting that the UK economy has strengths that could be uncovered as the vaccine rolls out and restrictions eased. for pandemics.
While the Treasury plans to reflect its response to the Covid pandemic in the budget, the Treasury Secretary also suggested that the many households saving money during the pandemic could help kickstart the economy as restrictions on business and public life are lifted..
Marshall said businesses need ongoing vacation relief to avoid the lasting impact of the crisis, as well as longer grant extensions, VAT cuts, lower business rates, and funding for staff training..
«Think how much has already been spent. Stopping now would be like letting a marathon runner fall within sight of the finish line and then not helping him cross the line and giving him the support he needs to recover», – he said.