Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak delivers a summer economic update watched by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his PPS South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge, top left. Picture: House of Commons/PA Wire
The boss of a Suffolk charity which works with young people to try to ensure they have a good start in the world of work welcomed the Chancellor’s emphasis on youth employment – but warned that the announcements would not be the answer to all the problems.
And local politicians accepted that Wednesday’s announcements were just the latest steps to try to boost the economy – more could still be needed to drag us out of recession.
Inspire Suffolk CEO Terry Baxter was pleased that the need to boost jobs for young people was recognised through the Kick-Start programme, but wanted to know more about how it would work: “As with all these kind of government announcements, the devil will be in the detail.
“There is already some support for those in the 16-24 age group from the government, we all need to ensure this does not just cut across that. But it is good that the government recognises this age group is at particular risk from the effects of the crisis.”
Suffolk County Council’s Conservative leader Matthew Hicks said: “I think today’s statement from the Chancellor is a very bold and positive move to help kick-start the UK economy after we have faced such a challenging time during the last few months.
“He is clearly trying to give local young people the opportunity to get into the job market through his £2 billion scheme to create new job placements.
“The support for tourism and the hospitality industry, which is very important to Suffolk, is most welcome and the temporary cuts in stamp duty will hopefully give many people the financial confidence to make their dream move in the housing market.
“The £2bn ‘green homes grant’ to help make homes more energy efficient, alongside £1bn of funding to improve the energy efficiency of public sector buildings is also a very welcome.
“As always, we look forward to more details of his announcement to fully understand what this means for Suffolk, but it is certainly a positive statement that acknowledges the need to invest in young people, employment opportunities and to give more support to our communities as we emerge from the Covid pandemic in months to come.”
But Labour leader of Ipswich council David Ellesmere was not as enthusiastic: “To start with we need to acknowledge that the UK government delayed bringing in the lockdown much later than other European countries and as a result more people lost their lives and the economic impact has been greater than elsewhere.
“Many of the Chancellor’s announcements were moves in the right direction – but removing stamp duty usually only puts up the price of homes and I’m not sure the cut in VAT will be passed on to customers of pubs and restaurants because many of them will need to keep that to cover their costs.”
South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge is also Parliamentary Private Secretary to Mr Sunak and helped him during the preparation of the statement. He said: “With the inevitable threat to jobs caused by lockdown, I’m delighted that the Chancellor has continued his ambitious and wide-ranging response to assist the economy through tough times.
“The measures to support, protect and create jobs will be particularly welcomed by my constituents anxious about their prospects. We are supporting jobs through interventions like the £2bn Kick-start scheme directly funding jobs for young people, who could be most at risk of unemployment from the pandemic.
“We are protecting jobs in the crucial hospitality sector, by incentivising the public to support local pubs and restaurants, with vouchers to ‘Eat Out to Help Out’, plus cutting VAT the on food and non-alcoholic drinks that would be served.
“And we are creating jobs by unfreezing the huge economic sector of property and construction by slashing stamp duty. Finally, in talking about jobs we mustn’t forget the self-employed in South Suffolk and the £2bn Green Homes Grant will not only cut our emissions but offer opportunities for plumbers, builders and other micro-businesses.
“Overall, it is impossible to avoid any impact from shutting down our economy for months, but I’m confident that as a Government we are doing everything possible to minimise the impact and support my constituents.”
Lukewarm welcome for insulation boost from Suffolk Green Party
The Chancellor confirmed details of a new Green Deal to offer householders and landlords grants to improve insulation to boost jobs after the coronavirus crisis.
But leading Suffolk Green Party councillor Andrew Stringer did not give the move his unconditional support. He said: “It is remarkable that it has taken an international pandemic to finally get our government to begin to take the greater emergency seriously.
“It was David Cameron that begged us to vote Blue go Green with the only result was a watering down of our building regulations in the “bonfire of regulations” allowing new homes to be less efficient than they otherwise would have been.
“Of course we welcome any amount of funding to help with energy efficiency in existing and new buildings, but does this need to be at the cost of watering down further our planning system? “The Green Party Welcomes the direction of grants that reduce emissions as well as lifting people out of fuel poverty, but surely government should bring together these piecemeal announcements into a full Green New Deal.”
Published by the East Anglian Daily Times.