It’s time the government gave Redcar & Cleveland and all councils the power to support thousands desperate to get back to work once the lockdown is lifted and to give businesses certainty now by extending rate relief to kick start the economy.
New analysis reveals there are 11,800 people in Redcar & Cleveland either claiming Job Seekers Allowance or furloughed. We need more powers in local government to help prevent a jobs crisis this Spring. Of the 5.4 million people currently either claiming JSA or furloughed in England, 240,000 are in the North East and 500,000 in Yorkshire. Labour in local government is calling for greater freedom and support to boost local jobs markets including making jobs our number one priority through devolution and funding the delivery of employment services so that councils can use local knowledge to get people into work.
We need to be in a position within the local authority to plan locally for the end of lockdown. There are now almost 12,000 people in Redcar & Cleveland either claiming job seekers allowance or are on furlough – these are people desperate to work and to earn. The months ahead are still very uncertain – we have no idea how and when many of these jobs will come back. While our priority is to get the vaccines out across the borough and to beat this virus, we also need to be ready to ease business and employees back to work when the lockdown is lifted.
Businesses need certainty and the knowledge they will be supported with emergency measures until they can get back to trade. They need to be ready to plan today and their employees need to know they will continue to receive financial support until they can get back to work. The delay on this which will be weeks away in order for the big reveal by Rishi Sunak in March, is quite frankly irresponsible. Many businesses are vulnerable, racking up debts and are on the edge now. That’s why the government must also give them breathing space by offering a business rates holiday and an extension of the reduced rate in VAT for at least 6 months.
Why does the government continually drag its heels on decisions that affect the economy?
I fully support the call to devolve decision making to the local level. Our council should be given the powers to help those desperate to work back into jobs and to stave off a jobs crisis this Spring that could finish some local businesses off for good. That means no more expensive consultants, crony contracts and top-down decision making from the government. Instead, let’s harness the local expertise in our communities and give the families who have taken a battering this last year the best chance to rebuild their lives.
Our council needs to be ready to fire up our local economies and to create opportunities. We want to see our businesses back trading safely and financially unburdened when lockdown ends, so government needs to support councils to do that. Sadly, all we have seen is a government doing U-turns, delaying and dithering throughout this crisis. That and making questionable decisions that hands out multi-million pound contracts to their donors.
The government have repeatedly refused to support and trust our local communities to take decisions that will work for our area. We have the local knowledge, the networks, local entrepreneurs and the capability to get through this crisis – that’s why they must give us the space and tools we need in local government to fight for local jobs and for our business owners.
New analysis from LGA Labour reveals there are 11,800 either claiming JSA (or the UC equivalent) (5800) or furloughed (6000) in Redcar & Cleveland. Across England there are 5,361,450 either claiming JSA (or the UC equivalent) – 2,234,350 – or furloughed – 3,127,100 – based on the latest data. Estimated furlough data obtained from spreadsheet downloaded from https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/coronavirus-job-retention-scheme-statistics-january-2021 (Tab 11). Estimated claimant count data obtained from https://www.nomisweb.co.uk/
Economic inactivity (Oct 2019-Sep 2020) for Redcar & Cleveland state 5,100 want a job.
LGA Labour’s plan to help get communities back to work:
- Help councils make jobs our number one priority
Labour councils believe getting people back to work must be the number one priority of the recovery. The government needs to back us to help people back into work by funding councils to deliver a truly integrated and devolved employment and skills service: bringing together information, advice, and guidance alongside the delivery of employment, skills, apprenticeships and wider support for individuals and local employers.
- Target economic recovery support where it is needed most
Allocation of funds for job creation and economic development should see funding go to the places hit hardest by the pandemic – based on impact of coronavirus on local jobs, where health inequalities are greatest, and where lockdowns have been in place for the longest.
- Build back better
Economic recovery should be based on stronger, more inclusive, and greener foundations, to create fairer local economies and meet the challenge of climate change. Require all economic support to use social value in commissioning and procurement to promote better work, better wages, better access to skills and other outcomes linked to more inclusive economies, and to invest in the transition away from carbon.
- Stop wasting money on expensive consultants
The pandemic has seen the government hand over billions of pounds to private firms and highly paid consultants who have failed to deliver, and without proper procurement or scrutiny. Ban the use of consultants and instead direct funding only to accountable public bodies such as councils, combined authorities, and local community groups.
- Devolve decision making to local level
Regional, local and micro economies vary hugely across the country and have therefore suffered from the pandemic in different ways – so understanding the exact nature of an effective and sustainable local stimulus can only be carried out locally. If the government tries a national approach it will mean some areas getting the wrong support, which will both fail to boost the local economy and waste money – decision-making on projects funded by the Shared Prosperity Fund, Towns Fund, and Levelling Up fund should be taken away from Whitehall and handed to local and regional government.