Over the course of the coronavirus job retention scheme, more than 9 million jobs were protected through the furlough scheme. The job support scheme that replaces it will come into force on 1 November. Of course, it is impossible to predict today how many people will benefit. That will depend on the exact path of the virus and the restrictions in place.
Since March, unemployment has doubled in Coventry South. The Government are replacing furlough with the utterly inadequate job support scheme. Research from the Institute for Public Policy Research found that, of the 2 million jobs at risk, it will save only 10%. Where it is used by businesses that are required to close, two thirds of wages is simply not enough for low-paid workers. Is the Chancellor happy to see 1.8 million jobs go? Could he live on two thirds of the minimum wage? If not, he should extend the furlough scheme for the industries that desperately need it.
When we announced the job support scheme, it was, in fact, warmly welcomed by several business groups and trade unions, with which I was happy to work in designing the scheme. I take the issue of jobs very seriously; it remains my highest priority. Although I cannot protect every single job, we will throw absolutely everything we can at protecting, saving and creating as many jobs as possible, which is why we have a comprehensive plan for jobs. The job support scheme is just one element of that. Indeed, I am pleased to say that the kickstart scheme is shortly due to launch, which will provide hope and opportunity to hundreds of thousands of young people.
A report published this week by the political consultancy WPI Strategy, commissioned by Tesco, ranked Bradford West at No. 3 in its need to be levelled up. Last week, another report found that my constituency has the highest rise in the rate of child poverty in Yorkshire and Humber. The Chancellor will be well aware that it also ranks seventh highest in the country for unemployment. With all that going on, and having been under local restrictions for almost three months, I ask the Chancellor whether he feels that Bradford West can afford any more job losses and whether he believes that it is in need of targeted support from the Treasury.
In Bradford and elsewhere, we would not like to see any job losses, but the reality is that what is happening to our economy means that, sadly, many people—almost three quarters of a million—have already lost their job and many more will. That is why our comprehensive plan for jobs aims to protect, support and create jobs in every part of our United Kingdom. That will provide hope and opportunity to people, whether it is the kickstart scheme, as I mentioned, or the opportunity for new training and skills delivered through the Prime Minister’s announcement of a lifetime skills guarantee.