North East needs the Chancellor to go further

Today the Chancellor gave his summer economic update and announced support for the UK economy.

There were some welcome measures, like the kickstart fund to create jobs for young people, a scheme to support green jobs, and a VAT cut for hospitality and tourism.

But I fear the Government have not gone far enough, especially to support our region.

The North East always gets the worst deal whenever trouble strikes – lost jobs, declining investment and public sector cuts.

Almost a third of jobs in our region are currently being supported by Government schemes and the sectors most affected are typically lower paid, with younger people and women making up more of the workforce.

We cannot let this crisis entrench regional, intergenerational, and gender inequalities even further.

The cost of doing nothing will be far greater than providing the right support now.

So today I’ve called on the Government to invest more: in transport improvements, in reskilling for older workers, in a review of business rates; and by introducing a Real Living Wage and reforming social security.

Watch my speech here:

Today the Chancellor gave his summer economic update and announced support for the UK economy. There were some welcome…

Posted by Catherine McKinnell on Wednesday, 8 July 2020

 

Full speech: *Check against delivery*

There is no doubting the magnitude of the economic challenge we face as a country

The North East always gets the worst deal whenever trouble strikes – lost jobs, declining investment and public sector cuts.

Our region went into this crisis with the highest level of unemployment in the country and I can only see that getting worse.

The Northern TUC estimate almost a third of jobs in our region are currently supported by government schemes so there are a huge number of jobs at risk.

And with 71% of children living in families with little or no savings, the impact will be devastating.

Today I was hoping for reassurance this crisis might be different

There is certainly measures to welcome.

The Kickstart Scheme, like Labour’s Future Jobs Fund, should hopefully help young people starting out in their careers

The green jobs drive should help to deliver the skilled, well paid, sustainable jobs we need.

However, I fear the Government’s ambition simply does not meet the scale of the challenge

Just as they were slow to act on public health in the early days of the crisis, leading to many more devastating deaths than we should ever have seen, I am concerned this is just not enough to ensure we can all grow out of this crisis

It’s the poorest households that have seen the greatest loss of income already

The kind of jobs now most at risk are in sectors where pay is lower and where young people and women make up most of the workforce

We cannot let this crisis entrench regional, intergenerational, and gender inequalities even further.

It’s crucial the Government does more.

We need short term support for businesses that will continue to struggle. A one size fits all approach is leaving too many to fall through the gaps

The package for the creative sector is welcome but we also need a longer-term strategy as venues remain shut and capacities limited.

Transport investment will be vital to unlocking the potential of the North and a commitment to get Northern Powerhouse Rail, HS2 and upgrades to the East Coast Main Line ‘shovel ready’ in the North to unlock thousands of good quality jobs.

Kickstart for young people is welcome, but we need investment in re-skilling older workers too

Action to address poverty and income inequalities, including a Real Living Wage and reforming social security

And the long-promised review of Business Rates and online taxation is desperately needed for our high streets and town centres whose long-term transformation has been accelerated by this crisis.

I also want to put in a special plea for business rates relief for our regional airports. It’s a major fixed cost that is simply not reflected in the current or projected passenger numbers.

 

I also want to touch on support for new parents.

I know its not hard hat and shovel ready stuff, but quite frankly, there are thousands of new mum’s who have been left completely overlooked during this crisis.

Their maternity leave period has seen isolation, lack of health visitor, mental health and medical support.

Lack of peer group and family help at this vitally important time.

If not addressed the impact could be felt for years to come.

They are now having to go back to work, many without access to childcare, and so risk being targeted for redundancy.

It’s no way to treat our new parents, or the children they are bringing up in this world.

I implore the Chancellor to look seriously at the Petitions Committee report into these issues and look at the very reasonable requests for additional support that they now desperately need.

 

The cost of doing nothing will be far greater than providing the right support now.

People have made huge sacrifices to get us through this health crisis. The North East is now looking to the government to deliver on its promises in return.