Steve McCabe MP, Birmingham Selly Oak is calling on the Chancellor to act now to save jobs, businesses and livelihoods in Tier 3 Birmingham.
Figures released today show a bleak trend of rising unemployment across the country. In Birmingham Selly Oak constituency 7.5% of the population are now claiming unemployment benefits, well above the national average of 6.3%. Across the whole of the West Midlands this figure is 7.3%. Worryingly, the figures show 2,115 people in Selly Oak alone have lost their jobs since the lockdown began in March 2020.
Steve McCabe MP has raised particular concerns about those working in our hospitality sector. With the city being in Tier 3, the furlough scheme on its own is not enough to keep these businesses afloat.
At the end of September, the number of people in Birmingham Selly Oak who were furloughed was 3,400. It is clear the Government should have acted sooner to extend the furlough scheme and protect those at risk of redundancy. People are now facing an unemployment cliff edge with our hospitality sector on the brink of obliteration.
Steve McCabe MP has joined the Greater Chamber of Commerce in calling on the Chancellor to urgently create a ring-fenced fund to support those hardest hit businesses. This could be paid for by using the Covid-19 support money which major retailers have pledged to return. It’s estimated to be at around £2 billion.
The Birmingham MP, who sits on the Work & Pensions Select Committee, is also calling on the Chancellor to make the £20 uplift in Universal Credit permanent. Many constituents have told the MP they are claiming the benefit for the first time and do not know how they will cope if the amount they receive each month is reduced come April 2021.
Steve McCabe MP said:
“Today’s figures are a grave reminder of the Government’s lack of action to save thousands of jobs in my constituency and across Birmingham. Many more jobs could have been saved if the Chancellor hadn’t prematurely threatened to end the furlough scheme only to restart it the following month. Behind every number is someone who has lost their job or livelihood, we have just got to do more to protect them.
“While it won’t solve everything, the Government could do two simple things to provide real practical help. First, they should make the £20 increase in Universal Credit permanent which will help literally thousands of families put food on the table and pay their bills. And Second, they can Back Our Business and use the money the big supermarkets have returned in covid-19 support and give this to businesses hardest hit, like the hospitality sector.
“I am backing our businesses, the question is will the Chancellor?”