Kerry writes for Fishponds Voice, August 2020.
As lockdown has eased, and the public health risk has receded, it’s become clear just what an effect coronavirus has had on jobs and the economy. In Bristol East, more than 15,000 jobs have been furloughed, nearly 5000 self-employed people have claimed from the Self-Employment Support Scheme, and the number of people claiming Universal Credit went up from 2,960 in March this year, to 4,525 in June.
What’s most worrying is that we know we have not yet seen the worst economic effects of the crisis. Reports suggest a quarter of furloughed workers could be made laid off in the coming months, with a roll call of companies announcing redundancies in recent weeks. There have been worrying announcements from Airbus and Rolls Royce, which will affect jobs in Bristol. I’ve been speaking to both companies to try and minimise the impact on those people in Bristol East employed in the aerospace industry. It’s not, of course, just about jobs at those big companies, but many associated jobs in the supply chain and local services too.
When you look at the whole picture, it’s clear the support package the Chancellor announced in his mini-Budget is woefully inadequate and offers little consolation to those people whose jobs and livelihoods are on the line. The Government’s ‘one size all’ approach takes no account of the fact that some sectors have been hit harder than others. It also ignores the opportunities that could come as we rebuild the economy – for example, targeted support for car manufacturing could accelerate the phase out of diesel and petrol vehicles, which will help us meet climate change and clean air goals, as well as keeping people in work and making sure the UK gets a share of the electric vehicle manufacturing market.
But we also need to protect people employed in sectors which can’t open fully yet. Much of Bristol’s night-time economy will be unable to return to normal for months. The public health restrictions that – understandably – remain in place mean that thousands of jobs could be lost. That’s why we need a continuation of the furlough scheme for workers in sectors like these – rather than the Government’s approach, which is to leave them to fend for themselves in the face of economic turmoil.
I know many people in Bristol are concerned about the effect of the pandemic on their finances, and I’ll keep pressing the Government to support everyone who needs it. In the meantime, if you have any problems or concerns related to finances and redundancy, please do get in touch with my office on firstname.lastname@example.org or by phoning 0117 939 9901.
Read the full copy of the Fishponds Voice, August 2020 here.