This week saw the announcement from the Chancellor on how we are going to kick start the economy. After three months of lockdown, we need to see demand pick up to ensure we get the so-called V-shaped recovery.
The government has done all it can to help. I know there are a few gaps and we are still trying to address some of these points. But getting people out and about, spending money, is key to the recovery.
For us here in Wyre Forest, where we have a significant tourist offering, the measures proposed are helpful.
VAT on the tourist and hospitality sector has been cut to just 5% until January. This includes B+Bs, hotels and attractions, such as our own West Midlands Safari Park. And to get people spending in restaurants again, there will be a £10 discount, paid for by the government, on food and non-alcoholic drinks. Across the country, 2 million jobs will be helped through these measures.
For other businesses, the furlough scheme will end in October. The reasoning is that we cannot indefinitely keep people in jobs that may not be viable in the future. We need to get people into jobs that will have longer term security as soon as possible. But for those businesses that are keeping going, they will get an employers’ bonus of £1,000 per employee.
It is also important to create new jobs and there is a significant package to help the environment, with a £3 billion package to drive investment into eco-friendly home improvements. This is expected to help boost jobs as people take advantage of the £5,000 grant to invest in their homes - £10,000 for low income households.
This includes £1 billion to decarbonise the public sector.
But we run the risk of a lost generation. £2 billion has been put aside for the Kickstart Scheme – a programme to create new, government subsidised jobs specifically for 16 to 24 year olds. Employers can apply for the scheme from next month and there is no cap on the number of places available. We expect the first wave to be in place by the autumn.
There is more. But what is key to all this is that the government not only recognises there is a problem – and a very big problem at that – but that our economy and jobs market needs an unprecedented amount of help. The chancellor is not shirking from his responsibilities and given the problems we face, I think we are facing these problems head on.