Luke Pollard, the MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, is calling on the Government to reconsider their dismissal of 138,400 workers in the South West, and over a million UK-wide, who are in jobs that the Chancellor Rishi Sunak has called ‘unviable’, and therefore deemed not worthy of trying to save.
Most of these jobs are in sectors that have been unable to reopen due to Government guidance, and have been completely neglected in the Chancellor’s ‘Winter Economic Plan’, just as they have been ignored in previous schemes. Additionally, the failure of the government to implement an effective test, track and trace system means that these businesses do not have any idea of when they can safely reopen.
In Plymouth, these ‘unworthy’ jobs include, but are not limited to, 375 event caterers, 365 people employed in the creative, arts and entertainment sector, 2,125 people employed in nightclubs, pubs and bars, and 975 people working in local sports clubs.
For example, Plymouth Argyle. Ministers were too focused on getting premier league football back on TV and neglected the non-premiership teams that rely on match day revenue and offer an important community hub, just as Home Park does for Plymouth.
Other important cultural establishments under threat include the many local pubs, cafes and independent shops in Plymouth, the Theatre Royal which has closed its doors for the first time in 37 years, and the Barbican Theatre, a local small charity and community-led theatre.
Luke Pollard MP said:
“The South West has already lost 570 pubs since the Conservatives came into power ten years ago, and I fear we will lose many more, alongside other local restaurants, coffee shops, and bars. Hospitality giants like Pizza Hut and Revolution are having to consider closing; this is a huge shame in itself as they offer lots to the city, but if they can’t cope how can we expect the smaller businesses in Plymouth to?
It is important to recognise that it is not just Plymouth losing these amazing businesses that matters, but the potentially tens of thousands of people who will lose their livelihoods. Thousands of job losses have already happened, and I fear many more are yet to be announced.
Amazing schemes like ‘Geddon Plymouth’ have been set up to encourage people to shop locally, and there are fundraisers online for Plymouth’s theatres. However, these businesses should not have to rely on the generous donations of the public to survive the crisis.
What they need is more clarity from the Government and greater support for those who have up till now fallen through the gaps of the CJRS and SEISS schemes. The Job Support Schemes offered by the Government have unfortunately been too little too late – they have U-turned on almost every policy they have introduced, meaning that by the time it is implemented thousands have already lost their jobs. There are also too many people who are still unable to access this support, as you have to be in a job to get it, and lots of these businesses simply cannot reopen.”