Urgent question on Government's strategy to protect jobs and the economy

16 June 2020

Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, Anneliese Dodds asked an urgent question in the Chamber today asking for an update on the Government's strategy to protect jobs and the economy in light of changes to the furlough scheme.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Jesse Norman, responded to an urgent question on an update to the Government's strategy to protect jobs and the economy, today in the Commons chamber.

Jesse Norman: "protected almost nine million jobs."

The Financial Secretary told the House that “on Friday the ONS published their first estimate of April GDP, and showed the economy contracting sharply by a record 20.4% on the month.” He added that “It is clear that restrictions introduced during lockdown, while necessary, have had a severe impact on output.”

He told the House that it is important to note that a number of other external forecasters have all highlighted that the cost of the economy would have been significantly higher “were it not for the swift and decisive action the Government has taken.”

The Secretary said:

“Measures such as the coronavirus job retention scheme which has protected almost nine million jobs and more than one million businesses, have helped to limit the adverse impact of the crisis.”

The Finance Secretary told the House the importance of noting that the OACD forecasts the UK to have the strongest recovery out of all of the countries that they looked at, as well as an unemployment rate projected to be lower than that of France and Italy by the end of 2021.

Speaking about the coronavirus job retention scheme, he said, “from July to October, employers currently using the scheme will be able to bring furloughed employees back part time.”

Anneliese Dodds: "a slow and confused response to saving jobs."

Replying on behalf of the Opposition, the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, Anneliese Dodds told the House that “the OACD’s global outlook suggested the reduction in GDP in the UK due to the current hit of coronavirus – will have been the largest out of all developed economies.”

She added that “it seems the slow and confused health response is followed by a slow and confused response to saving jobs, despite the huge long-term costs of unemployment.”

The Shadow Chancellor asked if the Treasury “will change its one size fits all approach to the furlough and self-employed schemes which risk additional waves of unemployment? Will it act to encourage young people to stay in education and training and out of unemployment?”

She also asked if the Treasury will act now to create the extra support that can’t be delivered by current Department of Workplace and Pensions staff “occupied with huge numbers of extra claims.”

The Shadow Chancellor added:

“Above all, rather than a limited budget statement in July, will the Government set out the back to work budget we need, with a focus on jobs?”

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