Press Release – 08 July 2020

Luton North MP Sarah Owen responds to the Chancellor’s Economic Update

“Ten years of cuts to public services and stagnant wages left the livelihoods of the people who keep our economy going vulnerable to a crisis like covid-19. Today, we saw some headline-grabbing proposals which failed to respond to what Luton needs to help us recover from this crisis.”

“In Luton, we needed three things: certainty for airline staff who might be about to lose their jobs, support for councils and the charitable sector after a collapse in revenue from the airport, and confidence that the government is pushing to make returning to everyday life as safe as possible.”

“With easyJet joining the likes of British Airways in consulting staff on thousands of job cuts and with passenger numbers having collapsed to levels not seen since the 1960s over the last few months, there needed to be a specific package of support for the aviation sector. The furlough scheme cannot continue indefinitely, but the government needs to at least acknowledge that each sector has different needs. Without job security for airline staff, there remains the risk of thousands of cabin crew and pilots losing their jobs, only for these staff members to be replaced in a few months’ time with new staff on worse terms and conditions.”

“The government also promised that it would do whatever it takes to get councils through this crisis. With a loss of nearly £50m in funding from Luton Airport, Luton Council is on the brink of being forced to implement even more cuts by a Tory government. This will be devastating for services that people rely on, with workers in refuse collectors and social care workers in Luton at risk of losing their jobs, after the Prime Minister applauded them on his doorstep.”

“We need confidence back in our economy, but things will not go back to the way they were until consumers are confident that shops, bars and restaurants are safe. We are still waiting for the “world leading” test, track and isolate system with a working app which the Prime Minister promised us nearly two months ago. The government needs to join up its economic response with its health response because until we beat coronavirus, and with the risk of local outbreaks, any recovery will remain sluggish.”

“If immediate action is not taken to save aviation jobs, protect our council’s budget from more cuts, and ensure that people feel safe as life returns to normal, this crisis will even further devastate the economy of our town.”