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  • NEW TUC REPORT identifies 600,000 existing public service vacancies and staff gaps that government could unlock quickly to cut jobless rate  

  • The more people in work, the faster we will work our way out of recession, says TUC 

A new TUC report published today (Sunday) sets out proposals for a public sector jobs drive to stave off mass unemployment and help the UK quickly recover from the Covid-19 recession. 

The UK entered the Covid-19 crisis with our public services weakened by a decade of cuts. But public service workers gave their all to keep essential services going. 

As we move out of the public health crisis, we are moving towards an economic crisis, with the Bank of England warning of mass unemployment with 2.5 million people out of work by the end of the year. 

Creating decent jobs 

The TUC’s report sets out a plan for public sector jobs to contribute to the fast employment growth the UK now needs. 

It identifies the additional staff required across the public sector to fill vacancies, address shortfalls in provision and meet future need. 

The union body is calling for government to urgently unlock the 600,000 jobs identified, including: 

  • 135,000 in health  

  • 220,000 in adult social care   

  • 110,000 in local government   

  • 80,000 in education  

  • 50,000 in civil service / public administration   

Taken together with proposals published by the TUC in June to create 1.25 million jobs by fast-tracking green infrastructure investment, this plan could deliver a total of 1.85 million new jobs in the next two years. 

Powering recovery 

The TUC says that the government-led jobs drive would help support a stronger and faster private sector recovery too, with opportunities in supply chains and from the boost to spending power across the economy. 

And it would help protect the Treasury from the revenue shortfall arising from the downside recovery scenario set out by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR). 

Under the OBR’s downside  scenario, peak unemployment would be two million higher than for the upside scenario. TUC analysis of OBR data finds that the Treasury would lose out on £520bn in revenue over the next five years on the downside scenario relative to the upside. 

The TUC says that the government must invest now to put the UK on the upside path - by preventing mass unemployment.  

Otherwise the nation will suffer the high costs of mass unemployment, weak revenue and slow growth for many years ahead. 

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:  

“Working people carried the burden of the pandemic. They must not bear the brunt of the recession. The government must go all out to protect and create jobs and prevent the misery of mass unemployment. 

“The more people we have in work, the faster the recovery will be. But ministers are sitting on their hands. It’s absurd to leave unfilled vacancies and unmet need in public services when unemployment is rising. Ministers should urgently provide the funding that will unlock existing public services vacancies and create good new jobs.  

“Our plan to invest in good public services jobs will help workers avoid unemployment. It will strengthen the vital services that we all rely on. And it will get people out spending in local business and services. That’s how to drive the recovery forward.” 

Editors note

TUC Congress 2020: The TUC’s 152nd annual Congress takes place on Monday 14 and Tuesday 15 September. For full details of the programme, how to watch debates and how to participate in digital fringe meetings, go to:  

New TUC report: The TUC report A plan for public service jobs to help prevent mass unemployment published today (Sunday) is here:  

Cost of additional 600,000 public sector jobs: The TUC estimates that once all 600,000 posts are in place, the annual cost would be approximately £20 billion. This is based on IFS (2019) analysis of the cost of public sector workers, including employer pension contributions and National Insurance payments, from ‘Public sector pay and employment: where are we now?’: 

TUC comparison of OBR upside and downside scenarios: The OBR’s Fiscal Sustainability report – July 2020 set out three potential outcomes for the UK’s public finances, based on forecasts for key economic indicators such as employment rates and GDP growth: (1) a central forecast, (2) an upside scenario with a lower unemployment peak and faster GDP recovery, and (3) a downside scenario with a higher unemployment peak and slower GDP recovery. 

The forecasts were also based on government policies and spending plans at the time the report was produced, and actual outcomes for the next five years covered in the report will depend in large part on government policy responses to the current crisis. 

TUC analysis of OBR data from the report compared the upside scenario and the downside scenario to derive the cumulative difference in revenue the government would collect over the five years from 2020 to 2025. 

The figure derived – £520 billion – is used by the TUC to help to indicate the scale of fiscal impact from policy failure to prevent high unemployment and achieve a fast recovery. As it is derived from TUC analysis, and not a number published by the OBR, it should be attributed as ‘TUC analysis of OBR data’, rather than directly attributed as an OBR figure. 

Lower revenue would not be the only fiscal impact from the downside scenario. There would also be a higher demand on public services and welfare benefits required by households on low incomes and without work. This has not been estimated by the TUC. 

The OBR’s Fiscal Sustainability Report - July2020 is here:  

TUC report on job creation through green infrastructure investment: The figure of 1.85 million jobs created through infrastructure investment – mainly in green industry – comes from analysis commissioned by the TUC from Transition Economics and published in July as an appendix to the report Rebuilding after recession: a plan for jobs. 
Link to main report:  
Link to appendix:  

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