Labour has today accused the Chancellor Rishi Sunak of consigning whole sectors of the economy, which generate billions in tax revenue and employ millions of workers, to the scrap heap.

In his Winter Economic Plan, the Chancellor failed to mention businesses that are not able to operate, because they are either shut down completely or trading with hugely reduced capacity including: the weddings industry, events and exhibitions, major parts of the night-time economy, festivals, sports venues and theatres. 

There was no acknowledgement at all about their plight or the fact that they will be forced to remain fully or mainly closed for the next six months.

New analysis by the Labour Party, using Office of National Statistics employment data, shows that more than a million workers are in these sectors simply dismissed as “unviable” by the government.

None of the additional measures announced by the Chancellor last week will assist them. The government’s Job Support Scheme is only open to those employers who offer their employees at least a third of their usual hours – impossible for those industries still closed.

The scheme is also fundamentally flawed because, for every two members of staff, it is cheaper for a company to bring back one member of staff full-time and fire the other, than to have two workers working part time. Hi 

The failure of the government to implement an effective Test, track and trace system means that these businesses do not have any idea of when they can safely reopen.

The viable industries and employees in the North West that the Chancellor has abandoned are: The UK’s night life industry, including 6,000 people employed in nightclubs, 42,000 people employed in pubs and bars. Either still shutdown or operating at reduced capacity and now hit by 10pm curfew. 

The events industry including15,000 event caterers, 950 people organising and running exhibitions and conferences.

The creative, arts and entertainment sector including theatres and cinemas – still shut-down or operating at reduced capacity – employing 4,000 people

The wedding industry The number of employees is too difficult to capture from available statistics but includes caterers, florists, photographers, dressmakers, and suppliers of all kinds. The industry has been hit by new restrictions: the number of wedding guests has been halved from 30 to 15, which will hit at least 70,000 weddings. It has been estimated the UK’s wedding industry has already lost an estimated £4.8bn as a result of coronavirus, with 127,000 nuptials postponed to 2021 and  the sports industry employing 48,000 people.

Labour can also reveal the number of businesses across the North West dismissed by the Chancellor as unviable:

890 night clubs, still under lockdown and therefore unable to access the Job Support Scheme 

80 cinemas operating at hugely reduced capacity, 4,540 pubs and bars hit by the new 10pm curfew  and 1,750 creative and arts venues in many cases still closedIn

Lucy Powell MP, Shadow Minister for Business and Consumers, said: 

“The Chancellor is consigning whole sectors of our economy to the scrap heap, damaging lives and livelihoods, and threatening the recovery. The failure of Ministers to ensure an effective Test, Track and Trace system means that many businesses are still fully or partially shut down. The decision to shut these firms out of the Job Support Scheme adds insult to injury.

“Labour has called for the government to come forward with an effective plan to recover jobs, retrain workers and rebuild businesses. This isn’t it. Even for those who can access it, the Job Support Scheme is badly designed and could lead to a wave of job losses, because the Chancellor’s sums do not add up for businesses.

“He must think again, before the jobs crisis reaches tipping point.”



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