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Labour rebukes government over record number of redundancies

LABOUR took the Tory government to task today over the record number of redundancies recorded in just three months during the coronavirus pandemic.

About 370,000 people lost jobs between August and October, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

In the ten months after the pandemic started in February, some 819,000 workers were dropped from payrolls, a third of them from the hospitality sector, according to ONS director of economic statistics Darren Morgan.

The figures peaked as England moved towards its second national lockdown in early November.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak eventually extended the furlough scheme covering 80 per cent of qualifying workers’ wages until March 2021.

But Labour’s shadow chancellor, Anneliese Dodds, said that her counterpart’s “chopping and changing” of support ahead of the extension had led to the record-breaking number of redundancies.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said that the uncertainties over continued funding had caused many workers to lose their jobs.

In the Commons, Labour MP Alex Norris asked the government whether it would offer “proper support” to hospitality, which has been hit hardest by Covid-19 restrictions, as many firms “are not going to survive winter with what’s currently on offer.”

He added that the British Beer and Pub Association had written to PM Boris Johnson to say that “so-called support for pubs and brewers was met with utter dismay and incredulity among publicans.”

But Business Minister Kwasi Kwarteng said he didn’t recognise what Mr Norris was saying: “We’re in constant dialogue with the pub industry and many people, certainly in my constituency, have spoken to me, publicans, and they’re grateful for the measures of support,” Mr Kwarteng insisted.

Shadow business secretary Ed Miliband described government support for hospitality businesses as “hopelessly inadequate.”

He said: “Sixty-one per cent of the country will be in Tier 3 from tomorrow and the situation for many pubs, restaurants and bars is catastrophic.”

Business Secretary Alok Sharma countered that grants of up to £3,000 a month were available for firms forced to close.

Shadow employment-rights secretary Andy McDonald pressed ministers on why retaining jobs was not made a condition of funding to Heathrow, British Airways, British Gas, and Rolls-Royce.

He said that all these companies used “abusive fire-and-rehire tactics to cut pay and conditions of loyal workforces.”

But Minister for Small Business Paul Scully could only say that the government had “made it really clear” that companies making redundancies should “follow the correct consultation process.”

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