Rescue and recovery: Covid-19, jobs and income security
We are entering a period of high unemployment with stifled job creation. The government's response to the unemployment crisis so far relies on a quicker bounce back in economic activity than either the Office for Budget Responsibility or the Bank of England are predicting.
No plans have been put in place to protect jobs or businesses in the event of future local lockdowns once the government’s Job Retention Scheme (JRS) ends, or indeed if there is a second wave requiring national lockdown measures.
For many people in this crisis, the state has not been able to insure them against sickness and sometimes catastrophic falls in income. Our social security system should be acting as an ‘automatic stabiliser’ in this recession, smoothing incomes and helping to maintain a level of demand in the economy. However so long as benefit levels are low and coverage is poor, it will not fulfil this function. While this is a comprehensive challenge and will be the focus of forthcoming work from IPPR, the government can and must go further to prevent growing debt and destitution in this crisis.