All eyes this week were on the Chancellor as he announced measures to address what he called a “profound economic challenge”. Many of the measures are welcome but the real test is whether they will overcome the lack of confidence people have about going out again. The “psychological security” he seeks was profoundly damaged by the Cummings Affair.
We have said we will give credit to the Government where it is due. So I warmly welcome the measures to reopen hospitality and tourism which employ many local people. I also welcome the plan to encourage job creation for young people, 700,000 of whom are due to join the jobs market around now. The plan is reminiscent of Labour’s New Deal and later the Future Jobs Fund. The Government needs however to address inequality in the economy not least the status of social care, childcare and some NHS jobs. These sectors, along with retail, which was ignored in the statement, often provide a first job opportunity for young people.
The Chancellor’s Green Recovery plan with £3 billion for energy efficiency is interesting. But that is less than a third of the amount promised in the Tory Manifesto. As The Time is Now campaigners remind me, greening the economy needs to be much more ambitious than just some recycled money.
We do not yet know the size, shape or nature of the post pandemic and post Brexit economy. In the meantime, we need these measures to work, to protect jobs and create new ones. Whether they do, only time will tell.