Britain’s Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Thursday (9) reiterated his previous warnings that he would not be able to save every job and that the UK was headed towards a “significant recession” hit by the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.
A day after he tabled a mini-budget in Parliament, Sunak admitted that despite his £30 billion package of measures he won’t be able to “protect every single job” as businesses reopen following a three-month shutdown.
“I am absolutely anxious about the state of the economy,” he told Sky News.
“We are, as I’ve said before, entering into a very significant recession. We know that that is happening,” he said.
He said the forecasts of mass unemployment “weigh very heavily on me”.
But on a note of optimism, he added: “We don’t want people to be left without hope or opportunity.”
He urged Britons to “have the confidence” to return to eating out “because of the measures restaurants have taken” as he plugged the new Eat Out to Help Out discount scheme to help out the hospitality industries with government backed discounts on dining out.
He, however, admitted that some of the £1,000 bonuses being offered to take back furloughed staff would go to firms that were already keeping workers on.
In his summer statement to the House of Commons on Wednesday, Sunak said the “jobs retention bonus” could cost as much as £9 billion if every worker currently furloughed, on forced leave, is kept on.
Sunak repeated a Conservative Party manifesto pledge to extend free hospital parking for the disabled, frequent outpatient attendees, and parents of sick children who are staying overnight and night-shift workers.
Addressing businesses who still have to stay closed under lockdown rules, such as the beauty industry, Sunak said an announcement will come “very soon” on which firms can reopen next.