Covid-19: Support for UK Industries

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:13 pm on 25th June 2020.

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Photo of Rushanara Ali Rushanara Ali Labour, Bethnal Green and Bow 4:13 pm, 25th June 2020

I welcome the chance to debate the support we provide to industries and the many sectors hit hard by this pandemic. We are braced for the worst economic downturn for many decades, if not centuries. Many thousands of jobs are at risk of being lost or are likely to be lost, including at Centrica, Nissan, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. We are talking about plans to cut some 12,000 jobs. At Rolls-Royce and many other companies all over the country, many of our constituents will be affected. Some 10% of the population could face unemployment; 1 million young people are likely to face unemployment by the end of the year.

This also needs to be considered in the context of what kind of deal might be agreed, and how much friction there might be, with the European Union; the risk of a no-deal Brexit causing huge disruption; and the possibility of a second wave of the pandemic. So the risks are huge, both economically and in terms of health and our relationship with our biggest trading partner. That is why it is important that our Government focus on ensuring that there is a clear and coherent economic plan to protect the jobs that have been retained with the help of the job retention scheme. It is important that employers who are not in a position to make the contribution that they will soon have to are not forced to do so, because that will lead to more job losses. It is also vital that the Government heed the recommendations of the Treasury Committee report to provide support to the over 1 million people who did not benefit. Many of them work in the sectors that we have been talking about today, including in freelance jobs in the theatre, the music industry and creative industries in constituencies like mine—more than 1 million of them need help, including the new starters and those in the hospitality sector who have been neglected.

I hope that the Government will have a clear response to support the younger generation. We cannot afford another lost generation. It is vital that we have a credible economic plan that is ambitious, bold and inclusive, and protects everyone in our country. The Government must create a new settlement genuinely to tackle the inequalities that exist in our country and to ensure that no one is left behind, particularly those who have already faced hardship.