// Labour warns of “shuttered streets” and steps up calls targeted support to help save high street jobs
// It said 115,000 business in distress could get help from a Hospitality and High Street Fightback Fund
Labour has stepped up its call for a special fund to stave off the threat of continued job losses in the retail and hospitality sectors.
The party warned of “shuttered streets” as its research suggested 115,000 business in distress could get help from a Hospitality and High Street Fightback Fund.
Labour called for local authorities to use coronavirus-related grants they underspend in their area, to spend on supporting local economies, rather than returning funds to the UK Government.
Footfall for high street businesses is still down by a third on pre-pandemic levels, and thousands of job losses are being announced every week across retail and hospitality, said Labour.
“With the UK now in recession, ministers must do all they can to stave off disaster on the high street,” shadow minister for business Lucy Powell said.
“Rather than claw back these funds, ministers should back the high street and save jobs now.
“Many businesses are still in distress, with many still fully or partially shut down because of the continuing public health emergency.
“It’s vital that the government doesn’t think it’s job done when so many jobs and businesses are on the line.”
The government’s furlough scheme for workers is currently being tapered off before coming to an end in October.
While the government has launched the back to work bonus, offering firms £1000 for every furloughed staff member a business retains, there are fears there will still be thousands more retail jobs axed.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled his Plan for Jobs in the summer statement alongside a 15 per cent cut in VAT to add to the one year business rates holiday already available for eligible businesses.
The coronavirus crisis has sparked a swathe of shop closures, having rapidly sped up the shift to online shopping and as consumer uncertainty has taken its toll.
The 7000 jobs cuts announced by M&S last week – the majority of which are store staff – add to 2500 announced Debenhams the week prior.
Other big names that have announced hefty job cuts amid the crisis include the John Lewis Partnership, WHSmith, Boots, Dixons Carphone, M&Co, River Island, Selfridges, Harrods, Dyson, Oak Furnitureland, Ted Baker, White Stuff, Burberry, Travis Perkins, Monsoon Accessorize, Laura Ashley, Cath Kidston, Mulberry, TM Lewin, Clarks and Topshop parent company Arcadia Group.
with PA Wires