Boris Johnson’s New Deal scheme is designed to ‘level up’ the country

New Deal welcomed in the East Midlands

“Build, build, build” was the message from Boris Johnson as he unveiled a so-called New Deal programme that was welcomed in the East Midlands. The Prime Minister’s

“Rooseveltian” approach to kickstarting the UK’s post-Covid economic recovery plan includes spending £5bn on infrastructure projects to “level up” the country. Pressing ahead with ambitions to

“not just bounce back, but bounce forward”, Mr Johnson also confirmed the UK would focus on creating green jobs and supporting green technologies in a speech in Dudley. East Midlands Chamber chief

executive Scott Knowles said: “We’ve never known a situation like this when the economy has been shocked in such a way that the country needs a bold and brave response from the Government. “We welcome the Prime

Minister’s ‘New Deal’ programme, which suggests the Government is serious about supercharging the economy to help Britain – and the East Midlands – get back on its feet over the long term following the Covid-19 crisis. “We look forward to seeing

which particular schemes will benefit from ‘Project Speed’, given that there are two priority projects in the East Midlands – building the HS2 eastern leg and upgrading the Midland Main Line – which are absolutely crucial to enabling the region to fulfil its undoubted economic potential. “An ambition to spark a green

recovery is also welcomed. The East Midlands already has real expertise in green construction and any support to boost skills in this domain will be important to fulfilling this goal. Proposals to streamline the planning process and open access to public sector procurement should also be good news for SMEs, whose ability to compete in tender processes will be important in securing their own post-Covid futures.”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s emergency measures include a Kickstart scheme to fund traineeships for young people

Chancellor’s Summer Statement offers hope for economic recovery

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a series of emergency measures to help retain and create jobs amid the Covid-19 pandemic in a Summer Statement. The so-called “mini budget” included a job retention bonus that will reward every business that keeps on a furloughed employee – who is paid at least £520 on average per month – until January with a one-off £1,000 payment, as well as a Kickstart scheme that directly pays firms to create jobs, apprenticeships and traineeships for 16 to 24-year-olds. Other measures designed to

boost consumer confidence involved cutting VAT on food, accommodation and attractions from 20% to five per cent until 12 January, and an “eat out to help out” 50% discount of up to £10 per head to get people back to restaurants, cafés and pubs. Scott Knowles, chief executive

of East Midlands Chamber, said: “Government is clearly moving from a survival mentality to one of economic stimulus.

22 business network August/September 2020

‘Government is clearly moving from a survival mentality to one of economic stimulus’

“There’s a risk that the challenges imposed on businesses as a result of Covid-19 will fall more broadly on the shoulders of young people. A big chunk of the announcement focused on incentivising businesses to work with young people through traineeships and apprenticeships, as well as the additional provision for job centres and careers advice, so this is a welcome intervention. “The £1,000 job retention bonus

for companies that bring back furloughed staff will also be welcomed – for those small businesses currently considering their staffing options this could make a difference. “Where possible, the

apprenticeship route is preferable to work placements because it involves training and longer-term opportunities, although we need to ensure these become more flexible and evolve along with new ways of working. While these measures are

important in providing businesses with the support they need, it doesn’t make the scale of the task any smaller and time will tell how many of the 700,000 workers in the East Midlands who were furloughed at the end of May will be kept on in the long term. “Given that many of the jobs we

have already lost won’t be returning in the same form, as a nation we need to be thinking about preparing the workforce for the jobs of the future.” Scott also welcomed the

Government’s wider strategy to invest in green jobs through a £2bn green homes grant. Homeowners and landlords will

be able to apply for vouchers to make their homes more energy- efficient – with the knock-on effect of creating jobs. “This provides a great opportunity for an area like the East Midlands, where construction and manufacturing are important

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