Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 50 Number 38, October 10, 2020 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Workers' Forum

Birmingham Against the Cuts Responds to Covid-19

"Skills, Training and Employment in the Economic Recovery from Covid-19" was the focus of the Economy and Skills Overview and Scrutiny Committee of Birmingham City Council on October 7. There are several reports on the Council website, including the Skills And Employment Update. [1]

Birmingham Against the Cuts (BATC) [2], in a post of October 8, underlines that what is needed is a fundamental transformation of economic policy in Britain. At the same time, as part of creating the conditions for such a change in the direction of the economy, BATC asks what measures can be taken in Birmingham.

BATC points out that the current Covid-19 pandemic has meant that the City's jobs and skills support programmes are even more vital to meet the rising unemployment rate. It is clear that those working in sectors in decline, those with no/low skills, and young people working in the gig-economy have been adversely impacted and as a result have joined the unemployment register. Job Centre Plus is doubling work coach capacity and focussing on young people, but the support provided to individuals under the auspices of the City Council is limited by the magnitude of the situation.

What Does the Data Tell Us? [2]

Economic Sector Impact

An indication of which sectors have been most impacted by the pandemic is demonstrated by the take up of the government Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) in each sector. Hospitality related businesses, manufacturers, construction and retail are the biggest users of the furlough scheme. [3]

The sectors that are forecast to show the largest contraction in output are travel and hospitality related sub sectors. Transport manufacturing and other manufacturing subsectors are also amongst some of the most heavily affected sectors with output forecast to be around 10% lower than in 2019 over the next two years.

In terms of which sub sectors are forecast to be more resilient in the medium-term retail, banking and financial services, postal services and telecoms, electronics and R&D are all forecast to show growth over the next two years.

What Is Being Done in Response to Covid-19?

The Birmingham City Council report details that since the beginning of April to date, 561 young people have started their Youth Promise Plus (YPP) journey, with 268 fully registered (registration process is slow due to remote working but support is provided during this time). The project has provided support from food parcels and emergency housing support, to transport passes and advice, and online mentoring, with face to face meetings (often outdoors or at doorsteps) when needed.

The YPP gives extended support to young people, and the report details that over 14,000 young people have been supported by the project, with over 500 since the start of lockdown. The young people supported by YPP live across Birmingham (and Solihull), particularly in the most deprived areas.

The report also details measures for encouraging young people to continue education to "weather the storm" of recession.

1. The reports can be read at
2. Birmingham Against The Cuts, supported by Birmingham TUC, is a group formed by trade unions, service groups, user groups and campaign groups in Birmingham to oppose the cuts being made by the government and their implementation by the council.
3. BCC's internal September Unemployment Briefing providing an update on unemployment (figures for August) and other sources
4. KPMG's September UK Economic Outlook shows how output is forecast to be affected at a sectoral level by the pandemic over the next two years.


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