Express & Star comment: Job losses tell their own story

The figures tell their own sorry story.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak

A staggering 730,000 jobs were lost during the first four months of the lockdown – and the picture is only going to get worse.

It will not be until early next year when we start to see the true damage of the pandemic on our economy.

And by that time the country is likely to to be in a perilous position.

The Government's furlough scheme, which is due to finish at the end of next month, has largely masked an unemployment rate that on the face of it remains historically low.

Many firms which shut their doors during the lockdown are yet to reopen, while concerns are understandably growing about what will happen when furlough ends.

There are growing calls for the scheme to be extended, but the Government has already spent a fortune and the well must be very close to running dry.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak – one of the few Tory ministers to come out of the pandemic with any credit – has a huge job on his hands to put the country back on anything like an even keel.

He will be fully aware that the Treasury's diminished coffers badly need to be replenished.

He will also understand the crucial requirement to save jobs.

Meanwhile, he will know that by the time he delivers his Budget speech in November, the country could also have been plunged back into a health crisis.

Covid-19 cases are heading in the wrong direction again, and the possibility of another national lockdown is already being discussed in the corridors of power.

All we can hope for at this point in time is that people are kept fully abreast of any developments.

It is all well and good ministers saying they have the country's best interests at heart, but too often in recent months their actions have left people confused, and in some cases, angry.

Guiding the nation through a pandemic is no easy task, but the Government must take care that it does not test the patience of the British public once too often.

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