Rishi Sunak: New Ways to Support “My Priority” Jobs

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Media legendChancellor Rishi Sunak told BBC people ‘want to work’ rather than leave

The chancellor said finding new ways to protect jobs was his “number one priority” after the unemployment rate hit its highest level in two years.

Rishi Sunak said finding innovative solutions was “a priority”, with figures showing unemployment had risen to 4.1% in the three months to July, from 3.9%.

Labor has called for the holiday scheme to be replaced when it ends in October, warning that unemployment could rise.

But the chancellor stressed that it would not help people find new opportunities.

Mr Sunak admitted that the holiday wage support scheme had worked, with more than half of the 9.6 million workers made redundant since May, returning to work in mid-August.

But he told the BBC: “I wouldn’t be honest with people if I pretended that it would always be possible for people to go back to the jobs they had.

“Now, in terms of helping these people, I don’t think the right thing to do is to extend the leave indefinitely.

“People don’t want to be at home, they want to work and that’s why our jobs plan is so important because it helps provide people with new opportunities for the future.

Support for sectors in difficulty?

Instead, he said the government had cut taxes on businesses, offered targeted support to the hospitality industry and launched a job retention bonus for companies that bring back staff on leave.

At the peak of the job protection program in May, 30% of the UK workforce was on leave. The share of the labor force on leave fell by more than half to 11% in mid-August.

Earlier on Tuesday, Employment Minister Mims Davies also indicated that more targeted support for struggling sectors could be announced by the government.

“There will be areas that take longer to come back – I don’t think this government is afraid to support where we can,” she said.

What do the latest unemployment figures show?

The latest employment figures show companies continued to take staff off the payroll as they prepare for the end of the leave program on October 31.

Some 695,000 UK workers have disappeared from UK corporate payrolls since March, when the coronavirus lockdown began, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Young workers have also been hit hard, with those aged 16 to 24 experiencing the largest decline in employment compared to other age groups.

Some 156,000 fewer young people were employed in the three months to July compared to the previous quarter, the ONS said.

  • Unemployment rate: how many people are unemployed?

“Generation Z has been particularly affected by the economic downturn from the pandemic, as the retail and hospitality sectors, which have suffered such assault, are often called upon to help school leavers and university to find entry-level employment and get started. in the world of work, ”said Susannah Streeter, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

“Unfortunately this can not only be a bump in the road, but could have long term consequences on their career path. ”

The government has launched a program called Kickstart to create internships for unemployed youth. Employers will receive £ 1,500 for every 16-24 year old they train.

How does the leave scheme affect employment?

The unemployment rate has risen slightly, but experts say it is not yet fully illustrating the impact of the economic crisis on jobs, with the holiday scheme helping to keep the numbers low.

The government’s job maintenance program begins to wane this month before ending on October 31.

Under this scheme, the government initially paid 80% of a person’s salary up to £ 2,500 per month.

Since the beginning of September, the state contribution has fallen to 70%, with employers having to compensate the rest of the salary before the plan ends on October 31.

What are the experts saying?

ONS director of economic statistics Darren Morgan said there had been signs of the economy ‘reopening’ in July, with businesses including restaurants, pubs and hairdressers being re-authorized to operate. trade.

Job vacancies in the three months leading up to August jumped 30% to 434,000, although the figure was still significantly lower than pre-virus levels.

However, Paul Dales, UK chief economist for the Capital Economics research group, said he expected “employment will decline more sharply and unemployment will rise faster as the leave program continues to unfold and will stop at the end of October ”.

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Media legendCoronavirus: the family hard hit by unemployment

What has been the political reaction?

Union leader Sir Keir Starmer – addressing the TUC conference via video link as he is self-isolating – called for an extension of part-time work at the end of the leave, with rewards for employers who people maintain, although he did not give details of these rewards.

He also called for targeted support for vulnerable sectors such as hospitality and aviation.

He urged ministers to “ban fire and rehire tactics” where workers are fired and then hired under worse conditions.

How do those affected feel?

Orrean Jacob recently lost the job he had done for nine years working at the Mini Car Factory in Oxford as an agency employee.

“They decided to let people go, and I was one of them,” he says. Hundreds of workers at the plant were affected.

” It really hurts. When you go to work, it’s not just about money or salary. It’s about doing something on your own, making friends, and making connections. ”

Although he found himself in a situation similar to many others during the pandemic, a phone call with a friend gave him an opportunity. They recommended that he contact the HS2 rail project about their week-long training programs.

By the end of the following week he was fully licensed to be on site and drive a forklift truck, having completed a course worth around £ 1,000 with one of HS2’s subcontractors.

“It was just the push I needed in the right direction – to find something new, to find a new way to go because the other was clearly not working. “

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