Sunday 23 August 2020 / 10:30 PM Jonathan Reynolds / Matthew Pennycook

Data reveals possible impact of redundancies across the UK as jobs crisis accelerates

Labour today reveals the scale of the jobs crisis across the UK as a result of the government’s withdrawal of furlough from businesses in struggling sectors, and the high proportion of people working in these sectors in some areas. Labour is warning that ministers’ indiscriminate severing of furlough support therefore risks deepening and entrenching regional inequality.

Retail has been the hardest hit by mass redundancies since the coronavirus pandemic struck, with manufacturing and aviation also badly affected. Tens of thousands of job losses have been announced and more redundancies are expected in these sectors, yet they have received no tailored support.

Labour is warning that the impact is likely to be felt far more deeply by some areas of the UK based on the proportion of their workforce in these sectors, with local economies being written off by government as Britain enters recession. The UK already has the worst regional inequalities in Europe and without targeted action, this is likely to get even worse.

Data shows that:

  • More than 10% of the North West’s workforce is in the retail sector – the highest proportion anywhere in the UK. Wales and the North East are second and third in terms of the proportion of the workforce in retail.
  • Almost 13% of the workforce in the East Midlands is in the manufacturing sector – the highest proportion in the whole country.
  • The West Midlands, Yorkshire and the Humber, Wales, the North East and North West all have between 10-12% of their workforce in the manufacturing sector.
  • In comparison, only 2.2% of London’s workforce is in manufacturing.
  • Meanwhile, London is likely to be most affected by the damage to the aviation and travel industry, as it is the region with the highest proportion (0.7%) of its workforce in the aviation industry, and 64,000 jobs relying on aviation and travel.

Matthew Pennycook MP, Shadow Business Minister, said:

“Ministers are writing off parts of the UK as the country enters recession, with figures suggesting some places will be disproportionately hit by the jobs crisis.

“Labour is calling for the government to U-turn on its damaging blanket approach to withdrawing furlough, which fails to consider the circumstances of different sectors or the impact on the communities that have a proud history in these industries.

“The government needs to do right by these communities and businesses, and see them through the crisis by targeting support, not pull the life raft away while the storm is still raging on.”

Jonathan Reynolds MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said:

“Every job lost is a tragedy and we must do all we can to safeguard people’s livelihoods.

“We are in the midst of a jobs crisis right across the UK but these figures show certain areas are more at risk than others. The Government’s one size fits all approach will see some communities hit harder and they must adopt a more tailored approach now if we are to avoid further job losses.”