Jobcentre staff will be doubled in wake of economic impact of Covid-19

4 July 2020, 23:16

The move will cost some £800 million and comes amid predictions of a major recession
The move will cost some £800 million and comes amid predictions of a major recession. Picture: Getty

By Matt Drake

A huge increase in Jobcentre staff is expected to be announced in anticipation of a major recession as a result of the coronavirus quarantine.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is expected to say the number of work coaches will double from 13,500 to 27,000 in a bid to try to help jobseekers back into employment.

The move will cost some £800 million and comes amid predictions of a major recession in the aftermath of the pandemic as GDP has taken a severe hit during the lockdown.

The Chancellor is set to outline policies aimed at dealing with Britain's recovery from the coronavirus outbreak on Wednesday.

The Treasury insists that work coaches act as "expert mentors" and have a "proven" record to help jobseekers and benefit claimants into work quicker.

The move comes as jobcentres are to see more face-to-face meetings with people seeking work from Monday as lockdown restrictions are eased.

As part of the first wave of the nationwide recruitment drive, an extra 4,500 coaches will be in position by October, with more to follow later in the year.

The Government has set up a team of senior policy advisers from the Treasury and the Department for Work and Pensions to oversee the Government's plans to support jobs.

A Treasury spokesperson said: "The longer someone is out of work, the harder it is to return. Doubling the number of work coaches will ensure those in need are given immediate support to get back on their feet and into a job.

"Work coaches will use their expert advice to support claimants to make the most of their skills and put them in the best possible position to reconnect with the local labour market.

"Evidence shows that high-quality, work-focused, one-to-one adviser support, significantly reduces jobseekers' barriers to work."

It comes as England has finally begun easing lockdown after several months and allowing people to return to restaurants and pubs.

But MPs have been told it is "pretty certain" that the hospitality sector will not recover fully from the Covid-19 crisis.

Professor Alasadair Smith, a member of the Scottish Fiscal Commission, said while the sector would recover, the extent to which that would happen was uncertain.

He spoke as MPs on Westminster's Scottish Affairs Committee were told that the Government should guard against keeping "zombie firms going" with its economic support packages.

David Phillips, an associate director with the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said there had been a "lack of creative destruction" after the 2008 financial crisis - saying while many workers had stayed in their jobs, this meant they had not moved to "more productive parts of the economy".

And he said it would not be a "failure of policy" if Covid-19 resulted in some firms closing down and jobs being lost.