So now Sunak has announced a “plan for jobs”. He needs one. As he himself explained: since March, the economy has shrunk by 25%. The IMF predicts the deepest recession since records began. The British economy was already in trouble before Covid-19 and now also faces an inevitable Brexit hit on top.
This “summer budget update” follows on the heels of Johnson’s “Rooseveltian New Deal” in which he recalled the US president’s 1935 economic recovery plan after the Great Depression. But even though Roosevelt forked out 40% of GDP, US unemployment still remained at 20%... In fact the economy only recovered after rearmament and WW2!
Today, Johnson offers just 0.2% of GDP and claims this will “build” Britain out of its current unprecedented slump! Yes, the lion roared and delivered... a mouse.
Of course, the government is worried about the coming “scourge” of unemployment. On top of the 11m currently furloughed workers, there are already 4m unemployed. Up to 700,000 school-leavers will soon join them. The Covid-crisis has given many companies a pretext to restructure and cut costs, above all, by cutting jobs.
And presiding over this situation is a government which has proved its incompetence by its criminal mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic. These are ingredients for a social explosion. And that is a very frightening prospect for Johnson, Sunak &co., and the capitalist class they represent.
So Sunak now pretends to address “workers’ worries” with his “job creation plan”. But just like his furlough scheme, it is a handout, not to workers, but to the bosses. His “kick-starters” scheme doesn’t “create” even one job! It offers bosses who will pay a minimum of £520/month and who provide 25 hours minimum work a week to 16-24 year-olds, a “bonus” of £1,000 per worker.
In other words, it’s a reward to bosses for offering part-time work at a starvation wage - because the minimum wage is a starvation wage: apprentices get £4.15/hr, and then the level varies from just £4.55/hr to £8.20/hr according to age.
And yet the “scourge” for the working class - is not just the absence of jobs, but the nature of these jobs - low paid, part-time, precarious! Did Sunak say one word about banning zero-hours contracts, or making it mandatory to offer permanent jobs? No. He has given the bosses an incentive - a nice little bonus - to employ, under the pretext of “training”, cheap, part-time youth for 6 months only. And to thus replace permanent, older, more expensive workers!
The working class has seen these cheap and nasty tricks before. And it surely knows by now that the social change which is needed - and which becomes more urgent by the day - will have to be “kick-started” by workers themselves.