The summer economic statement made clear the government’s two big coming worries. First, the whole emphasis on jobs highlighted how concerned the government is about mass unemployment. If you thought that vacancies were going to bounce-back you wouldn’t be – literally – paying firms to take on 16 to 24-year olds.
It isn’t just youth unemployment the government is concerned about either. The £1,000 bonus for firms that bring staff back from furlough is intended to preserve marginal jobs that might otherwise be lost.
Even with these measures, unemployment is still likely to spike. The question is whether the government’s approach will stop this from tipping over into mass unemployment.
The other striking feature of the speech was the emphasis on the Union. The fact that independence has taken a regular lead in the polling in Scotland in recent months is causing increasing concern in Whitehall. Today, Sunak attempted to point out that an independent Scotland simply could not have had such a generous employment support scheme as the furlough. Expect to hear the government making this argument more and more in the coming months.
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