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The South East needed a ‘New Deal, and all it got was a meal deal’

The South East is facing a looming jobs crisis, as the furlough scheme unwinds, and businesses operate with severe restrictions. In the South East there are:

  • 1,035,400 people are furloughed, equivalent to around 21.90% of the workforce
  • 352,000 people are using the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, around 7.45% of the workforce
  • 325,199 people are claiming UC and other out of work benefits, equivalent to 6.70% of the working age population and a rise of 178.12% since February.

This is why Labour has spent the last few weeks calling on the Chancellor to hold an emergency ‘Back to Work’ budget with one focus: jobs, jobs, jobs.

First we got rhetoric and rehashed announcements from the Prime Minister then last week we got a meal deal from the Chancellor.

Whilst the voucher scheme is welcome, 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 is also undoing any good work with the blanket withdrawal of the furlough scheme, starting in just a few weeks.

He’s offered firms a £1,000 for any workers they retain until January, but 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 face months of uncertainty.

  • The Food and accommodation sector saw output fall by nearly 92% between February and April, whilst the arts, entertainment and recreation sectors saw output cut almost in half.
  • The food and accommodation sector supports roughly 331,120 jobs in the South East
  • An estimated 221,850 are furloughed and face an uncertain future as the scheme is withdrawn in a matter of weeks.
  • The arts and entertainment sector support roughly 158,359 jobs in the South East

An estimated 110,060 are furloughed, and again face an uncertain future as the government presses on with blanket withdrawal from August.

Stephen Morgan MP