'Race against time' to save jobs in the North, says CBI
The boss of the CBI has spoken of a “race against time” to save UK jobs amid the coronavirus pandemic.
And Dame Carolyn Fairburn said the North needed special attention.
The CBI Director General gave a speech to the CBI’s Northern Business Summit – a joint meeting of the CBI’s three regional business councils spanning the North of England.
In her speech, Dame Carolyn laid out the ‘twin challenge’ of kick-starting the UK’s economic recovery, while tackling historic under-investment in the North.
In the speech she said: “Not only must the North be central to our economic recovery, we must also confront the historic underinvestment, and the productivity gap that put our regions on the backfoot in the first place.
“Businesses are now in a race against time.
“We urgently need the government to take five steps in the next five weeks, if we are to save jobs now – and prevent permanent scarring on young people’s lives.”
Her demands were :
*A strong, open partnership – built between government, business, unions, and health experts – and committed to honest, transparent, and constructive debate. This must begin now, she said, with risk assessed, transparent decisions on schools, quarantine, and sensible social distancing.
*A jobs plan. Starting by protecting as many existing jobs as possible, by evolving the furlough scheme, and using the apprenticeship levy for sensible, targeted wage subsidies.
*Targeted financial support, for sectors hardest hit by social distancing where loans aren’t enough, like concert venues, sports stadiums, and airports.
*A national wave of infrastructure investment. Supercharged, shovel-ready, sustainable projects. This would include HS2, Northern Powerhouse Rail, and rolling out electric vehicle charging across the North.
*A good deal with the EU - "our closest trading partner, will be a cornerstone of our recovery”.