Plan for public service jobs to cut post COVID-19 unemployment, says TUC

By agency reporter
September 15, 2020

A new TUC report has set out proposals for a public sector jobs drive to stave off mass unemployment and help the UK recover quickly from the COVID-19 recession.

The TUC says the UK entered the COVID-19 crisis with our public services weakened by a decade of cuts. Despite that, public service workers gave their all to keep essential services going.

As we move out of the public health crisis, we are moving towards an economic crisis, with the Bank of England warning of mass unemployment with 2.5 million people out of work by the end of the year.

The TUC’s report sets out a plan for public sector jobs to contribute to the fast employment growth the UK now needs. It identifies the additional staff required across the public sector to fill vacancies, address shortfalls in provision and meet future need.

The union body is calling for government to urgently unlock the 600,000 jobs identified, including:

  • 135,000 in health
  • 220,000 in adult social care
  • 110,000 in local government
  • 80,000 in education
  • 50,000 in civil service / public administration

Taken together with proposals published by the TUC in June to create 1.25 million jobs by fast-tracking green infrastructure investment, this plan could deliver a total of 1.85 million new jobs in the next two years. The TUC says that such a government-led jobs drive would help support a stronger and faster private sector recovery too, with opportunities in supply chains and a boost to spending power across the economy.

It would also help protect the Treasury from the revenue shortfall arising from the downside recovery scenario set out by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR). Under this scenario, peak unemployment would be two million higher than for the upside scenario. TUC analysis of OBR data finds that the Treasury would lose out on £520 billion in revenue over the next five years on the downside scenario relative to the upside.

The TUC says that the government must invest now to put the UK on the upside path by preventing mass unemployment. Otherwise the nation will suffer the high costs of mass unemployment, weak revenue and slow growth for many years to come.

The TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “Working people carried the burden of the pandemic. They must not bear the brunt of the recession. The government must go all out to protect and create jobs and prevent the misery of mass unemployment. The more people we have in work, the faster the recovery will be. But ministers are sitting on their hands. It’s absurd to leave unfilled vacancies and unmet need in public services when unemployment is rising. Ministers should urgently provide the funding that will unlock existing public services vacancies and create good new jobs.

“Our plan to invest in good public services jobs will help workers avoid unemployment. It will strengthen the vital services that we all rely on. And it will get people out spending in local business and services. That’s how to drive the recovery forward.”

* Read A plan for public service jobs to help prevent mass unemployment here

* Trades Union Congress https://www.tuc.org.uk/

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