Gordon Brown has warned that Britain is a facing a “tsunami of unemployment” unless efforts to protect jobs are stepped up.
The former Prime Minister urged the Government to rethink plans and for the Bank of England to put more focus on dealing with unemployment in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the former Labour leader said: “I think that there should now be an operational target that interest rates will not rise and stimulus will continue until employment returns to pre-crisis levels.
“It’s a change. It’s in line with what the Federal Reserve is doing. I think other banks around the world are going to do something similar. And I think the Bank of England, at this point, is, I’m afraid, behind the curve.
“They have got to send a signal that employment really matters.
“We are facing a tsunami of unemployment.
“The Office of Budget Responsibility says unemployment will double in the next few weeks.
“So, it will be about three million at least.
“Now, that means that unemployment in some of the poorest communities will be 20%.”
He added: “I think the Government has got to change course here.”
Asked if that meant keeping the jobs furlough scheme beyond the end of October, Mr Brown said: “That means keeping people in the labour market if at all possible.
“Probably by some incentive like in France and Germany for part-time work, which is going to go through in these countries right through 2021.”
Mr Brown added: “We have to rethink what we were planning for the post-October situation.
“The October 31 cliff edge is going to be so damaging for lost jobs.”
Mr Brown told BBC Breakfast: “I’ve just got to be honest. What’s being proposed at the moment is totally inadequate.”
He said this is “a one-in-100-year event”, adding: “This is unprecedented. It’s totally unique.
“Don’t destroy capacity. Don’t destroy skills. Don’t put people out of work and just sit back when you know unemployment is going to go three million, perhaps even higher.
“You’ve got to take action and you’ve got to respond to what is being said right across the country.”
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