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Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been warned his latest emergency package will not be enough to prevent the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs from sectors hardest hit by coronavirus.
Conservative peer Lord Wolfson, the chief executive of Next, said roles will be shed from the retail industry as consumers make a permanent shift to shopping online.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said that the seemingly permanent shift to online shopping means that a lot of “unviable” jobs are in retail.
Asked if a lot of those roles are in retail, Wolfson replied:
I think that is right. I wouldn’t want to underestimate the difficulty that is going to cause a lot of people who work in retail.
I think it’s going to be very uncomfortable for a lot of people. We will inevitably, and have already, reduced the number of people working in our shops and I’d expect that to continue over the coming five or six years as the demand for retail goes down.
Steve Barclay, Sunak’s deputy as chief secretary to the Treasury, defended the measures as being targeted to roles that remain “viable” but warned “we cannot save every job”.
Sectors hardest hit by the restrictions in place to slow Covid-19’s spread continued to raise warnings despite the Chancellor’s Job Support Scheme to help pay wages for employees able to work at least a third of their hours, the Press Association reports.
Barclay said it was “very sadly” the case that there will be more unemployment as a consequence of coronavirus but that support was targeted at getting those in “viable” jobs back to work while the unemployed can be retrained.
The multibillion-pound Job Support Scheme, which will last for six months from November, will see the state and employers top up the wages of staff working at least a third of their normal hours.
A worker doing a third of their normal hours will still receive 77% of their usual pay, up to a cap – 33% from their firm for the hours worked, a 22% top-up from the employer and a further 22% from the state.
Other measures included in the package include an extension of the VAT cut for tourism and hospitality and more flexible terms for the repayment of government-backed loans.
But sectors including the performing arts have warned there was little to help their venues remain open.
Sunak argued it would be “fundamentally wrong” for people to be kept in jobs that can only exist due to state funding.
Source: The Guardian
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