Shropshire Star comment: Government must act to make most of bleak prospects

There are no ways to sugar coat the pill that is rapidly rising unemployment.

Job Centre
Job Centre

Despite Government attempts to shore up businesses and protect jobs through furlough, Covid-19 is starting to bite. The economy is facing significant scarring and will take some years to recover. Worse, the debt that we have accrued to stave off an even worse picture will take a generation to pay back.

The rise in unemployment is predictable. The trend is the same for the whole country, more and more jobs are coming to an end. Some sectors are being particularly hard hit – there will be thousands of workers who will have to look to different sectors to find gainful employment.

Though the rate of increase is slowing, the picture remains predictably bleak. The Government is facing a war on two fronts – fighting the virus and protecting the nation’s health; while also trying to preserve as many jobs as possible – and then set about rebuilding our economy. It is no exaggeration to say this will be the greatest challenge faced by any Government for generations.

While the situation surrounding Brexit is more complex, that too will play into the figures in the near future. The effects of further job losses would be disastrous and we would find ourselves in the same grim position that people lived through during the late 1970s and 1980s.

The Government must do what it can to protect employment, though we must acknowledge the high cost of that. As the immunisations roll out, there must be swift action to create jobs and to balance the economy with greater emphasis on manufacturing and jobs in the green economy, as there is an inevitable move away from service industries.

Though the situation is stark, the Government has the opportunity to reshape the economy and to put Britain at the forefront by prioritising jobs that will be required as our world changes. We must look towards environmentally-sustainable industries and the needs of a digitised, inter-connected world as we plan for the future.The seeds of hope lie in the garden of despair and the Government must make sure it is thinking of the future, as well as the here and now. How the country emerges will be critical to future generations.

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