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TUC publishes plan to protect the North West from mass unemployment and build back better

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  • TUC report sets out plan to invest for growth so jobs can be protected and created
    • New TUC analysis shows breakdown of employment risk for local authorities in the North West

New TUC report ‘A better recovery for the North West (published today, Monday) sets out a plan to prevent mass unemployment following the pandemic, with secure jobs and decent pay for working families.

Unemployment risk in the North West

The TUC warns that there is a high risk of mass unemployment in the North West without a recovery plan centred on protecting and creating jobs, backed by major investment.

Workers who have required support from the job retention scheme and self-employed income support scheme are most likely to face unemployment risks in the months ahead.

In the North West, TUC analysis estimates that at least 1 million workers (30% of the workforce) have required support from these schemes.

The local authorities in the region with the highest proportion of workers seeking support through these schemes are:

  • Sefton – 43% (36,200)
  • South Lakeland – 42% (21,200)
  • Pendle – 41% (15,400)
  • Burnley – 37% (13,800)

The local authorities in the region with the highest number of workers seeking support through these schemes are:

  • Manchester – 78,100 (30%)
  • Liverpool – 61,800 (27%)
  • Cheshire East – 55,000 (29%)
  • Cheshire West and Chester – 51,400 (32%)
  • Wigan – 47,700 (30%)

On top of these figures, there will be many other people who have been laid off, or who entered the employment market during the crisis, and have been unable to find work.

And the union body says economic uncertainty will affect all industries, so there will be pressure on the jobs of many workers who have not been furloughed too.

A plan to get the North West growing out of the crisis – and stop mass unemployment

The pandemic alone did not cause the current crisis. It was made worse by a decade of austerity and failure to strengthen the North West economy, says the TUC.

Choosing the wrong approach now risks embedding low growth, long-term unemployment and all the social ills that go alongside.

The report recommends an approach based on recently published TUC research (see notes), which found that the fastest recoveries from economic crises in UK history were based on investment for growth.

An investment for growth approach must be resourced by central government, and will need action at regional level in three key areas:

  1. Investing in jobs: Combined authorities, local councils and local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) should work in partnership to:
    • Secure investment for local infrastructure needs
    • Leverage public sector spending to support local jobs and enterprise
    • Develop a regional-level green industrial strategy that builds on the region’s strengths to meet climate targets
  2. Decent work and a new way of doing business: Combined authorities, local councils and LEP’s should attach conditions to commissioning and procurement that will improve job quality, strengthen worker voice, increase training opportunities and tackle discrimination and disadvantage in the workplace.
  3. Rebuilding public services: Combined Authorities and local authorities should adopt a policy of managing all services in-house by default, so they can raise employment and delivery standards, and strengthen the resilience of essential services such as social care.

These priorities complement the national priorities that we have already published in the TUC’s national recovery plan.

Local leadership and workers’ voices

The report calls for the formation of a North West recovery panel with representation from unions, employers, Job Centre Plus, relevant civic partners and local and combined authorities.

Regional panels would work in tandem with a UK National Recovery Panel to turn headline objectives into tailored strategies for each region.

The TUC says that regional structures with devolved powers are essential to achieving the best recovery possible, because the nature and scale of the challenge varies greatly across different parts of the UK.

In the North West, the TUC hopes to continue work with local authorities in Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region and Preston to link procurement to supporting local economies and creating good jobs. They say making money being spent in the region conditional on good employment standards and a living wage will ensure that workers and the wider North West public benefit in any recovery.

They say that different parts of the region will face different challenges and the TUC is calling for local and combined authorities to not be competing against each other. As part of this, they’re calling for investment that supports all of the North West, including in airports and key industries that also benefits supply chains.

Both the regional and national bodies should have worker representation so that workers’ voices are at the heart of decision-making for recovery plans.

TUC regional secretary Jay McKenna said:

“People are very worried about their jobs. Already we are hearing of people being laid off. Losing your job is a dreadful experience for the individual and devastating for families. And if we allow mass unemployment to take hold, our economy will be smaller, and the recovery from the pandemic will be slower.

“That’s why good jobs are at the heart of our recovery plan for the North West. Jobs in a reborn manufacturing sector. Jobs in the green tech we need to safeguard our future. Jobs in automotive and aerospace, that are high-skilled, need protecting. Jobs in hospitality and retail which are valued and paid fairly.

“And we must value our public services in the North West too. Our key workers kept us going through the crisis. But after ten years of cuts, it was much harder for them than it should have been. It’s time to rebuild local public services for the future.

“We all know the size of the challenge her in the North West. But working together, we can ensure there is ‘no going back’ to many of the things we need to leave behind. Instead we can focus on building a better, fairer future for the entire region.

“This week, we’re asking the Chancellor to put his faith in people in the North West and across the UK with big and bold investment. If he backs us in this way, we can avoid mass unemployment, work our way to recovery and build back better.”

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