Preet meeting a business owner outside their cafe called Reem.

Almost 70,000 jobs are at risk in Birmingham unless the Chancellor delivers a “smart” furlough scheme as part of emergency action to tackle Britain’s jobs crisis.

New analysis by the Labour Party estimates that seven months after the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, launched his ‘Plan for Jobs’, 81,710 people in Birmingham are claiming out of work benefits with a further 68,487 people still being furloughed by their employers.

The Chancellor initially planned that the Government’s furlough scheme would end last July. However, after many calls for the scheme to be extended, it is currently set to expire at the end of April.

Now, Preet Kaur Gill MP is demanding that the Chancellor not repeat the mistakes of last year, by winding down the scheme while public health restrictions are in place and employment opportunities are still severely impacted.

Instead, Gill is asking for an immediate extension to the furlough scheme, to remove uncertainty for local businesses and workers. She is also calling for urgent reform to make furlough smarter, with new training to help furloughed workers that would improve their skills as well as new tougher conditions for employers to stop abuses.

Labour’s figures also show that 34,000 people in Birmingham had made claims under the Coronavirus Self-Employed Income Support Scheme. The Chancellor has left millions of self-employed people relying on this scheme in the dark about future support.

Preet Kaur Gill, MP said, “Rishi Sunak’s Plan for Jobs has been a disaster. Seven months after its launch, we’ve got record redundancies, soaring unemployment and the worst economic crisis of any major economy.

“We need urgent action to secure, recover and create jobs to prevent the doubling of those 81,000 people who are already out of work and claiming benefits, to 150,000 should the people on furlough not be sufficiently protected during this time of a national lockdown.

“People can’t afford to wait for the Chancellor to get his act together. They need emergency action today, not more dither and delay until the Budget.”