Labour’s warning that the effects of Covid-19 on jobs and businesses threatens to widen the North-South divide must be heeded by the Government, and there is merit to the Opposition’s call for targeted support to be offered in individual areas.
Manufacturing is amongst the industries likely to be hardest hit by the fallout from coronavirus, and it is at the heart of our economy, employing 284,000 people, which amounts to 12 per cent of the workforce.
Those jobs have to be safeguarded.
The depth of the problems facing Yorkshire is also underlined by today’s report from Hope not Hate, which paints a disturbing picture of some of our communities, including coastal and post-industrial towns, where alienation from politics and a lack of prospects are breeding discontent and even far-right extremism.
Such a state of affairs is inevitably bound up with the fortunes of the wider regional economy, which makes it imperative that the Government acts to not only support employers but strives to create new jobs.
Labour’s proposal for a rethink on cutting furlough funding in October is worthy of consideration.
The tens of thousands of jobs already lost are bad enough, but worse could come when the furlough scheme ends.
In the next few weeks, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak – a Yorkshire MP who understands the needs and challenges faced by our county – will deliver the most important Budget presented by any Government in recent decades.
It is vital that he prioritises saving jobs and supporting industries, and that means addressing regional inequalities.
This region must not be left behind.