Urgent action is needed to rebuild our economy after coronavirus.
The lockdown of the economy has already caused a sharp rise in numbers claiming universal credit, of both in-work and of unemployment benefits. While the official unemployment rate has so far held steady, over a quarter of all workers have been furloughed. These jobs will become vulnerable as the Job Retention Scheme ends in October. As the temporary support measures are wound down, a major economic stimulus will be needed if we are to avoid mass unemployment.
The scale of action needed is also an opportunity to address long-running problems in the UK economy, including the long-running decline of our industrial base, which has contributed to inequalities between and within regions, and the growth of insecure and low paid jobs, while stepping up action to decarbonise our economy and better preparing our public services to deal with future challenges. The TUC has set out the measures needed nationally to rebuild our economy:
We want to see regional and devolved nation ‘recovery panels’, mirroring a National Recovery Council for the UK, bringing together unions, employers, Jobcentre Plus, relevant civic partners and local and regional governments, to feed into the planning and delivery of recovery strategies at regional, local and devolved nation level.
These regional and devolved nation structures are essential because there are wide variations across the country in terms of both the nature and scale of the challenges faced and the institutional arrangements and capacities for addressing these challenges. In these 3 circumstances, a one size fits all solution will not work. Instead, we need to turn headline objectives into tailored strategies for each region and sub-region.
Furthermore, different parts of the country and the different parts of regions will not be equally hit by the recession. The economy is already highly imbalanced between regions and within regions. The uneven impact of lockdown on different sectors, combined with regional and sub-regional imbalances means there is a danger of compounding spatial inequalities. 8 per cent of the South East’s employment is in at-risk occupations, rising to 21 per cent for workers age 25 and under.
We hope to see action on these measures in the chancellor’s summer fiscal event, but there is much that partners in the South East of England can do within existing structures. As well as calling on the chancellor to provide support for the South East as part of a national recovery plan, this report sets out a recovery plan for the region that local authorities and LEPs in alliance with regional partners can start putting into action right away.
Download full report (pdf)
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