Protection of Jobs and Businesses

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:20 pm on 9th September 2020.

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Photo of Alison McGovern Alison McGovern Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) 3:20 pm, 9th September 2020

Well, the hon. Lady should listen up, because if she thinks redistribution is important, then she should be aware that in the new seats that the Conservatives won at the election in December, there are half a million jobs at risk. If the Conservatives think that they can turn away from this issue as those people end up on the scrapheap, then they are very much mistaken.

We have heard London Tory MPs saying, “London is the powerhouse of the country—make sure London is all right and everyone else will be okay.” Again, I thought that the Conservative party was not about that any more; I thought that the Conservatives had mended their ways. Well, let us see: are they really going to vote to ignore those half a million jobs in the seats they won only in December? I would say to the hon. Member for South Cambridgeshire: beware headline statistics, because the employment rate, as he well knows, cannot describe the situation for places that went through wave after wave of deindustrialisation, and where the previous rounds of high levels of unemployment impact today on people’s skill levels, income and ability to mobilise capital in those places.

My greatest fear right now is for young people, because the labour market has memories. When the labour market has a negative shock like this that impacts on people who are working today and experiencing it, they will feel that shock for the rest of their career. According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, employees aged 25 and under are about two and half times as likely to work in a sector that is now shut down as other employees. Those young people will live with this shock for the rest of their career. I say to the Minister: those young people in our country today will never, ever forget what this Government did. The Federation of Small Businesses has said that kickstart is disappointing and we need much better for young people.

Finally, on rebalancing, what should that really look like? Where I am from in Merseyside, devolution has been worth it for us and it is going well. Merseyside’s chief economist, Aileen Jones, has come up with a credible recovery plan that ought to be supported by the Government. Whether it is innovation or the new digital economy, we can do it. We just need the Tories to do what they said they would.