Although lockdown is being eased, our country still faces the real threat of an unemployment crisis unless the government takes swift action.
We know the warning lights are flashing on the dashboard of our economy. Manufacturing jobs are in real danger.
Even before the pandemic, high street businesses were struggling to survive in the North East. Now, their fight for survival against online retailers is even tougher.
While measures like furlough have helped families and businesses stay afloat, there is a big question mark about what the government will do to protect livelihoods.
That’s why Labour is calling for a ‘Back to Work Budget’ focusing on three things: protecting jobs, sustaining jobs, and creating jobs.
As furlough changes and employers can no longer access support, we don’t want to see people moving off furlough and out of work.
To protect jobs, the government should show flexibility in winding down the scheme.
Crucially, we need to see action on creating jobs.
Young people face the most unforgiving jobs market in a generation. We owe it to them to build a future they can look forward to with hope.
We need to protect older workers through re-skilling programmes, so they can adjust to a changing jobs market.
We can only secure a fair recovery that benefits everyone if the government takes swift action – but it is reluctant to do so.
This week I’ve been campaigning for a new tax on digital giants like Facebook and Google.
Action to tax these companies is long overdue. For years they have found ways to pay less tax in the UK, and lockdown has seen them raking it in.
This is all while our high streets have faced real challenges – a timely reminder of the Echo’s #shoplocal campaign to support our great local businesses.
Getting to grips with the tax owed by these tech giants would help to create an even playing field for our high streets.
Yet this new measure will raise a fraction of the amount of tax lost to these companies, while others like Netflix won’t even be affected.
That’s why ministers should step up to the plate.
We need to hear more about measures to support our stretched public services, create new jobs and invest in infrastructure, rather than simply reheating old promises.
Without action, we risk repeating the devastatingly high unemployment of the 1980s.
All this can be avoided – but only if the Tories get behind our calls for a Back to Work Budget.
Bridget’s article was originally published in the Sunderland Echo.