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Call for urgent action in response to unemployment crisis from industry bosses and Communities that Work

NEWS RELEASE, 16 June 2020: Industry bosses call for action amidst  “the biggest unemployment crisis since records began”

Figures published today, 16 June, 2020, reveal the biggest annual increase in unemployment since records began in 1922, and put the UK on track to have the highest unemployment rate since the wake of the Great Depression.

Unemployment rose to 2.8million in May, a rate of 7.8%, marking the fastest rate of increase in almost a hundred years. Youth unemployment has more than doubled between March and May. These figures come despite Her Majesty’s Treasury releasing nearly £100billion through the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme and business loans, since the crisis began in March 2020.

The latest unemployment figures come as business leaders, charities bosses, universities and city mayors called on Boris Johnson, in an open letter published in The Sunday Times, to create a new “Opportunity Guarantee” that would ensure those who’ve lost their jobs or are struggling to access the jobs market will have the help they need to get into work.

Together, over 200 voices, including the CEO of Heathrow, Lord Robert Kerslake, Jamie Driscoll, Capita, The Princes Trust, and Metro Mayors Jamie Driscoll, Steve Rotheram, and Dan Jarvis called on Government to act now before it is too late.

Commenting on the open letter, industry leaders said:

Heathrow CEO, John Holland-Kaye said: “As the scale of the unemployment crisis starts to emerge, an Opportunity Guarantee will allow the Government to support those hardest hit by this outbreak as we look to restart the economy.”

Former head of the civil service, Lord Bob Kerslake said: “The message to Government is clear – with the Jobs retention Scheme winding up, we must invest in an Opportunities Guarantee. We need to create opportunities for people to skill up, and have a guaranteed role in our economic recovery, and we must put these plans in place now.”  

Jamie Driscoll, Mayor of North of Tyne Combined Authority said: “So many people are worried about their future right now.  We need a guarantee from Government that no one will be left behind.  If we can get everybody earning a decent living, half of our other social problems would disappear overnight.”

Stephen Evans, CEO of the Learning and Work Institute said: “The rise in unemployment is unprecedented, despite measures like the furlough scheme. Our projections suggest unemployment could rise above 10%, perhaps even heading back to levels last seen after the Great Depression. We need an ambitious plan for jobs that delivers an opportunity guarantee: investing in job creation, helping people find work, and making sure young people have a place in education or a job. The size of the challenge to get Britain back to work must be met by the scale of our ambition.”

 Scott Parkin FIEP, Chief Executive of the IEP, said: “Employability professionals have a crucial role to play in helping to support the many people who will be looking for retraining, skills and education opportunities to improve their employability prospects in the post-COVID era. We are here to support practitioners everywhere to help equip them for this challenge but we need the Government to act now to provide the necessary investment to address the scale of this challenge.”

 Sam Windett, Director of Policy at Impetus and Chair of the Youth Employment Group, said: “Today’s statistics show that young people have been hit hard in the labour market. Youth unemployment is a ticking timebomb which will cause a national emergency. The Youth Employment Group is calling for an Opportunity Guarantee to ensure all young people have the choice of an education place, apprenticeship, or job. The Prime Minister should signal his support as a matter of urgency, to give hope to the young people behind these figures and help prevent damage that will take years to repair.”

 Lynsey Sweeney, Managing Director at Communities that Work, said “We’ve seen the steepest rise in unemployment on record with 2.8 million people now out of work. Disadvantaged communities and young people  will be hit hardest by the recession. Many of these will be social housing residents – and the housing sector will be central to addressing inequalities and helping ‘level up’ economic recovery. Communities that Work and our members are calling on Government to support our call for an Opportunity Guarantee, investing in jobs and in employment support, and providing opportunities for young people.”

You can view the letter in full here


 Media Contact:

Name: Jenny Riddell-Carpenter, Director at BECG



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