Emergency exit: How we get Britain back to work


The Government acted with speed and at unprecedented scale to protect businesses, jobs and incomes during the crisis, and to minimise the long-term economic damage.

Nonetheless, the pandemic is clearly having a seismic impact on the labour market. The lockdown introduced in late March was necessary to slow the spread of the virus, but it has had a significant impact on the economy, leading to a sharp increase in unemployment. There were 2.5 million applications for Universal Credit during March and April alone, and more than 8 million workers have been furloughed.

As the spread of the virus has slowed, attention has now turned to how we can get the economy going again. This will not be like flicking a switch, and some restrictions and social distancing are likely to need to remain in place for many months at least. This raises questions about how best to start to get Britain back to work: investing to create jobs, withdrawing emergency economic support gradually, and helping those out-of-work to find new jobs.

The report calls on the Government urgently to introduce an ambitious ‘Plan for Jobs’, including;

  1. Large-scale investment and incentives to create jobs with shovel-ready and jobs-rich schemes brought forward. Rather than cutting employer taxes – which would be expensive and less effective – action should be taken to stimulate demand, including through car and boiler scrappage schemes.
  2. A Youth Guarantee to prevent a rise in long-term youth unemployment, including maintenance support to help 18 year olds to stay on in education; an Opportunity Fund to create ring-fenced temporary jobs for young people; and reforms to the apprenticeship system to re-focus funding on young people.
  3. A massive expansion of help to find work, including for the millions of furloughed workers at risk of losing their jobs. This should include £800 million in redundancy, retraining and reemployment support, at least 10,000 extra Jobcentre Plus Work Coaches, and £2.4 billion of support for the long-term unemployed.