The next stage to keeping businesses alive and people in work

By - World Infrastructure Journal

The backdrop to the Chancellor’s Summer Statement was the spectre of unemployment. The Prime Minister answering questions just before the statement said the priority of the Government was “Jobs Jobs Jobs" and so set the expectation for the Chancellor’s statement. An expectation that the Chancellor sought to fulfil as he set out his intention to give everyone hope and extolled the nobility of work.

The furlough scheme was the right policy for the first phase of the response to the crisis declared Rishi Sunak. So the measure to pay £1000 to every employer who keeps on staff until January was not only designed to ensure the benefits of furlough were not lost immediately but also indicated furlough was not for all time.

The question that is impossible to answer will this be enough to persuade businesses to keep employees on as they reset their revenue forecasts and budgets as they reopen.

The three-point plan to help people get jobs includes a "kickstart” scheme, traineeships and apprenticeships, all of which seek to encourage employers to take 16-24-year-olds in differing ways.

Alongside these schemes were announcements on doubling numbers of careers advisors, work coaches and a £2 billion green homes scheme to create potentially hundreds of green jobs.

The scale of these measures would be breathtaking in normal times and, even in these abnormal times, they are pretty exceptional by any criteria. Listening to the Shadow Chancellor and the SNP Leader, the only comment was that the measures are not big enough. However, no differing response was offered.

While the jobs were the substance, the headlines will be grabbed by the VAT cut and the Stamp Duty reduction. Both of these are welcomed. The only question is: Is there enough pent up demand in the economy to justify their temporary nature or will they need to become permanent?

Conservative MPs will be pleased and positive press releases are being written. However, this is just the next phase of the economic recovery plan. As the Chancellor said, more will be required as we continue to recover to the long-term adjusted normal.

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