Starmer warns of hit to region’s hospitality and retail during the crucial winter period
Keir Starmer has warned that hospitality and retail businesses in the East of England face a “defining few months” as new figures revealed 287,000 jobs in the region are in vulnerable retail and hospitality businesses forced to shut during the current lockdown.
Analysis by the Labour Party has revealed that 520 pubs and bars have closed in the east of England since the Tories entered government in 2010 – an average of one pub every seven days.
The Labour leader criticised the Government for “long-term neglect” of high streets and local businesses as figures showed the deepening impact of the pandemic on jobs and businesses. The claimant count of unemployment in the east of England has risen by 134% since March, with a sharp rise in youth unemployment, and a 40% drop in job vacancies in the region compared to 2019.
Starmer warned of the Government’s failure on both health and the economy, creating a “longer and more damaging shutdown” for businesses. According to Labour’s analysis of British Beer and Pub Association figures, over half a million pints of beer are set to be poured away by pubs in the east of England in November alone, as pubs remain closed with stocks unable to be sold.
Speaking after a virtual pub tour and meeting with landlords and tenants of local brewer Greene King, Starmer repeated Labour’s calls for the Chancellor to set out a plan for the next six months that will give workers and businesses much-needed certainty.
Keir Starmer, Leader of the Labour Party, said:
“Pubs, restaurants and retail businesses across the East of England have been hit incredibly hard by this pandemic and they now face a defining few months.
“Our high streets and local businesses have suffered from long-term neglect under the Conservatives. Now, after the Prime Minister ignored Labour’s calls for an earlier lockdown, businesses face a longer and more damaging closure.
“Hundreds of thousands of people in the East of England are employed in shut-down sectors and worried about their jobs in the run-up to Christmas. After months of last-minute announcements, the Chancellor must come forward with a proper plan to protect jobs and businesses over the next six months.”
Greene King Spokesman Greg Sage said:
“Our pub teams and tenants have had to navigate constant changes to rules and local restrictions and now face continued uncertainty as we head towards Christmas, our most important trading month. The hospitality sector needs more tailored support from government and a longer-term plan to protect jobs and provide a bridge to the spring.
“We have worked hard and invested millions of pounds to make our pubs safe and welcoming for our customers. Pubs are at the heart of local communities and play a vital role in tackling loneliness and social isolation and this is a key reason why we need to be open over the Christmas and New Year period.”