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Chancellor’s summer statement fails to deliver for Tower Hamlets

The Mayor of Tower Hamlets has said that the Chancellor’s summer statement failed to deliver for Tower Hamlets, and warns that London faces a looming jobs crisis as the furlough scheme unwinds.

Stats compiled by the Labour Party reveal that across London:

1,074,900 number of people are furloughed, equivalent to around 22% of the workforce

433,000 people are using the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, around 9% of the workforce

494,760 people are claiming UC and other out of work benefits, equivalent to 8.1% of the working age population and a rise of 169% since February.

These statistics form the background to Labour’s demands that the Chancellor holds an emergency ‘back to work’ budget with a focus on jobs, with Anneliese Dodds MP (Labour’s Shadow Chancellor) warning that the Government must abandon its “‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to the removal of the Job Retention and Self-Employed schemes” in order to prevent additional unemployment.

Mayor Biggs has also heavily criticised the Government for their failure to support local councils with the cost of Covid-19. Tower Hamlets Council recently set out that despite the Government’s commitment to reimburse councils for the cost of their coronavirus response, the authority is facing a funding shortfall of £35.72 million for April, May and June 2020 – equivalent to an additional £108 per resident – due to the increased cost of responding to COVID-19 combined with loss of income.

Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said: “The Chancellor’s summer statement failed to deliver for Tower Hamlets and I’m seriously concerned that the blanket withdrawal of the furlough scheme will do lasting damage and see many people lose their jobs.

“We needed a radical back to work budget, but sadly the Chancellor’s announcement was just full of gimmicks like his ‘meal deal’, and his offer to businesses of £1,000 for any workers they retain until January which will be of little comfort to those making painful redundancy decisions now.

“This summer statement was a missed opportunity to set out how we can revive and rebuild our economy. Gimmicks won’t fix what looks set to be the worst economic crisis this country has ever faced.”

Councillor Candida Ronald, Cabinet Member for Resources and the Voluntary Sector, said: “Local authorities across the country are facing huge holes in their budgets as the cost of Covid bites, with Tower Hamlets Council facing a funding gap of more than £35m.

“This is an issue that councils and MPs have warned about time and time again, so it beggars belief that the Chancellor didn’t include plans to support councils through this crisis. As the economic shock really starts to hit, our local communities are going to rely on councils more than ever to help them through the fallout but unless the Government provides extra cash soon councils will be in dire circumstances themselves.”