Which sectors may miss out on plans to support ‘viable’ jobs?

A coronavirus support plan announced by the Chancellor aimed at protecting “viable” jobs has raised questions over which sectors of the economy will be left behind.

The Job Support Scheme (JSS) will allow staff to be paid by their employer for working at least a third of their usual hours.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said it is “impossible” to predict how many roles the scheme will support – declining to say which roles he thinks have now become unviable.

He told reporters: “It’s not for me to sit here and make pronouncements upon exactly what job is viable or not but what we do need to do is evolve our support now that we’re through the acute phase of the crisis.”

The PA news agency looks at some of the sectors which have questioned how they will benefit from the new scheme.

– Performing arts

Leaders in the performing arts industry have expressed concerns about how much help they can get from the Chancellor’s plans.

Julian Bird, chief executive of the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre, said: “Our previously viable and world-beating sector is facing decimation as with no income, organisations cannot bring their staff back to work.”

Philippa Childs, head of entertainment and media union Bectu, said the Treasury had “overlooked” the needs of the creative industries.

She said: “The Job Support Scheme may help some employers, but it will not help to save theatres that are still not able to open due to government restrictions and are already making thousands of workers redundant.

Reopening of theatres
Reopening of theatres

“And the army of freelancers and self-employed who make up the backbone of the UK creative industries face being excluded from support once again.”

The Music Venue Trust added that the live music industry “faces a crisis which is not of its own making”.

– Hospitality

Members of the hospitality industry have also expressed concern over what will happen to jobs in their sector, particularly when combined with recent restrictions and curfews.

Chief operating officer of Brewdog, David McDowall, said the industry’s hopes had been “crushed” after the announcement.

The British Beer and Pub Association said parts of the plan were welcome but did not go far enough to save thousands of at-risk jobs.

The group’s chief executive, Emma McClarkin, said: “With a lower level of funding from government that will cost employers more, we are not confident it is enough to protect jobs in the current trading conditions.”

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said the sector was “not out of the woods”.

The hopes of our sector have been crushed. @RishiSunak hasn’t come close.

Just not enough to avert a crisis facing thousands of businesses and hundreds of thousands of livelihoods.

It all stems from a curfew that is seriously misguided and not based on any concrete evidence.

— David McDowall (@BrewDogDave) September 24, 2020

She said: “Things were looking grim for our sector yesterday and we were desperately hoping for some good news.

“The Chancellor has given us some reason to be positive again, but we urge him to engage with the trade on specific measures to keep people in work.”

– Retail

Retail bosses have also criticised the Chancellor’s plan as a “missed opportunity” to provide support to physical businesses, as shopping increasingly moved online.

Paddy Lillis, general secretary of the shopworkers union Usdaw, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has had a profound impact on retail. So far this year 125,000 jobs have been lost in retail and 14,000 shops have permanently closed.

“The Chancellor today needed to demonstrate the Government will work with unions and employers on an immediate recovery plan that will give targeted support to retail.

“High streets need radical and bold action to level the playing field between online retail and ‘bricks and mortar’ shops.

“Today we saw no indication that the Government is going to intervene in a struggling retail industry, which is the cornerstone of our towns, cities and communities.”

Thousands of shops have already closed
Thousands of shops have already closed

– Aviation

Members of the aviation sector have criticised the Treasury for the speed of the measures for the industry which faced issues prior to the pandemic.

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union, said the plans were “akin to using a plaster to cover a gaping wound”.

Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) leader Manuel Cortes said: “Better late than never but the Government’s indecision has already seen jobs lost in droves and caused huge needless anxiety among millions of workers.

“The Chancellor said they will target support at ‘firms who need it the most’.

“That must be fine-tuned so that the jobs of our members in the travel trade are saved and high-street travel shops don’t become a thing of the past. We will all need a holiday once the pandemic has passed.”