Britain’s economic problem intensified as three large firms revealed their job losses bring the number to more than 150,000.
Boots, John Lewis and Burger King are axing their workers due to coronavirus, and Rishi Sunak’s meal deal recovery plan was not up to the task of saving thousands of high street businesses.
Rishi Sunak promised to put jobs at the centre of his economic recovery, but the reality of the task was laid bare with a high street bloodbath.
Just a day after the Chancellor’s mini-Budget promised discount meals for people to get Britain spending, three major firms unleased more suffering and uncertainty by announcing closures to shops and outlets.
Boots, John Lewis and Burger King followed the expanding stream of businesses axing thousands of jobs, which indicates the number of jobs lost in the wake of the coronavirus disaster has reached more than 150,000.
And there were concerns that the five-week wait for Universal Credit will plunge thousands into debt if they’re given the boot from work, and it’s believed the latest cuts are just the tip of the iceberg as the furlough scheme comes to an end.
Britain’s high streets are facing a horror show, and Rishi Sunak’s promise to offer cheap meals out during certain days in August is just a drop in the ocean, as more and more people are left with no jobs and others suffer pay cuts.
A 13-day meal deal is certainly not up to the task for saving tens of thousands of jobs on the high street and in hospitality, and the Chancellor’s announcement was a missed chance to give practical help to save jobs now through fightback fund sectors still in trouble.
Boots unveiled more than 4,000 job cuts to offset the significant impact of COVID 19, and the cull of about 7 per cent of its workforce, included redundancies at its Nottingham headquarters, stores and optician chains, where it’s closing 48 branches.
The retailer said sales fell 48 per cent over the past three months, despite branches being allowed to open, while optician sales plunged 72 per cent.
Boots UK managing director Sebastian James said that the proposals were decisive steps which enabled Boots to sustain its important role as part of the UK health system and to guarantee effective long term growth.
But shopworker’s union Usdaw national officer Daniel Adams added that after everything Boots workers have given to their communities and their country as key workers over the past few months, it was bitterly depressing news and a further blow to the high street.
Burger King UK chief executive Alasdair Murdoch warned the company could permanently close up to 10 per cent of its stores, and that only around 370 of the chain’s 530 UK outlets had reopened since lockdown.
Alasdair Murdoch said that they didn’t want to lose any jobs and that they strive really hard not to, but that one had to assume that somewhere between 5 per cent and 10 per cent of their restaurants might not be able to survive.
John Lewis confirmed eight shops have closed since the start of the coronavirus lockdown and would not reopen.
They include its flagship Grand Central store in Birmingham, which only opened in 2015, along with another full-size branch in Watford, and the worker-owned business has started deliberation with 1,300 of its workers.
Aircraft engine maker Rolls Royce said more than 3,000 British workers had applied for redundancy, with about 2,000 set to go, and approximately 17,000 possible job losses have been announced so far this month alone, on top of 75,000 last month.
Rishi Sunak had sought to stop a surge of redundancies by promising firms a £1,000 gratuity for keeping furloughed workers in employment until the end of January, but obviously to no avail.
The Chancellor, who visited the Worcester Bosh plant, had further sparked concerns of tax hikes and spending cuts to come later after his pandemic recovery fund hit £190 billion.
That would spoil Boris Johnson’s general election promise to end austerity and reimburse the trust of voters in Labour’s once-loyal red wall of northern seats who shifted to the Tories.
Amongst those hardest hit by job losses have been the lower-paid, usually with limited savings if any to fall back on, and that risks a million more people signing up for Universal Credit.
And a damaging report by The National Audit Office found that the five-week wait for Universal Credit payment after losing a job could increase claimants debt.
But the Government must end this five-week wait now because it’s creating unnecessary pressure and grief, and it clearly didn’t occur to Rishi Sunak that any simpleton can stand there and spew any twaddle.
And over the years, we’ve never seen such an inefficient government as this. U-turns every other day with so many so-called initiatives or not enough and always far too late, the entire thing is a Fawlty Towers parody.