Coronavirus: Keir Starmer warns tourist towns are ‘falling through the cracks’ amid spike in unemployment
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer will visit Falmouth on Wednesday. (PA)
Britain’s tourist towns are “falling through the cracks” of the Government’s coronavirus economic support schemes, Keir Starmer has warned.
The Labour leader is demanding “targeted support” after analysis by the party found that there has been a sharper increase in unemployment claims in areas with a large tourism workforce.
The party wants the government to extend its coronavirus furlough scheme — due to expire in October — in sectors of the economy most-affected by the virus’s economic toll.
Sir Keir, who will visit local businesses in Cornwall on Wednesday, said: “We are lucky to have many world-class tourist destinations across the UK. But the jobs crisis facing tourist towns is stark.
“There are fantastic domestic options for British holidaymakers, but the crucial summer season has been cut short. With many businesses still unable to reopen fully, the Government’s one-size-fits-all approach to jobs risks these towns falling through the cracks.”
Labour has analysed unemployment and labour market data from the Office for National Statistics, and found that in areas where over a fifth of workers are in tourism-related jobs the claimant count for unemployment benefits has risen by 174% since February.
That compares to 110% for the UK as a whole.
In Falmouth, the site of Sir Keir’s visit on Wednesday, 24% of all workers are in tourism-related jobs — and the claimant count has soared by 140&.
As well as a boost to the furlough scheme, Labour has previously called for a ‘Hospitality and High Streets Fightback Fund’ worth £1.7bn to provide extra help to pubs, bars, hotels and businesses that have taken a hit during lockdown.
The party also wants specific regional economic plans to support areas that have seen a big drop in consumer spending.
Sir Keir said: “We need a targeted extension of the furlough scheme for the hardest-hit sectors and proper support in place to help those who are unemployed back into work. People are worried about their job prospects.
“The Labour Party is focused on fighting for every job and every part of the country.”