Covid: Rishi Sunak says people in 'all walks of life' are having to adapt for employment

Rishi Sunak has said we can't pretend that everyone can do exactly the same job Credit: PA

UPDATE: This article has changed to reflect that the Chancellor's comments were about employment generally and not specifically about the music or arts sector.

The chancellor has suggested people 'in all walks of life' should look to find new opportunities, as he declined to provide further support for struggling workers amid the continuing coronavirus crisis.

Rishi Sunak said: "I can't pretend that everyone can do exactly the same job that they were doing at the beginning of this crisis.

"That's why we've put a lot of resource into trying to create new opportunities," he added.

He told ITV News the government is "trying to do everything we can to protect as many jobs as possible" but conceded unemployment is "likely to increase".

When asked specifically whether some of the UK's "fabulous musicians and artists and actors" should get another job, the chancellor suggested there is still work available in the creative industry, but said there's a need to adapt.

He added: "Can things happen in exactly the way they did? No. But everyone is having to find ways to adapt and adjust to the new reality."

Two weeks ago Mr Sunak launched his Winter Economy Plan, which was designed to protect a "tsunami" of job losses, but many in the creative industry feel they were not protected by any of the schemes.

Asked where the support is for creative workers, Mr Sunak pointed to the £1.5 billion cultural recovery programme, which awarded cash to struggling businesses, and the self employment support scheme .

He created a new Job Support Scheme, which will replace the furlough scheme, but said only people in "viable" jobs would be allowed to use the support.

The furlough scheme, which has paid the wages of more than nine million people, finishes at the end of October and many feel they've been unfairly left out of the new scheme.

Much of the creative industry cannot reopen due to Covid-19 restrictions, meaning the businesses are currently unviable.

Labour's deputy leader Angela Rayner said the chancellor should be working to support businesses which would be viable had it not been for coronavirus.

Out of work artists recently took to the streets of London to highlight the impact of the pandemic on pantomime and live theatre. Credit: PA

She said: "Some of those businesses that are going to go to the wall under the chancellor's watch are viable businesses had it not been for the covid restrictions that they're facing "People are feeling incredibly disappointed, they've got local restrictions and yet they're not getting the support package to support those businesses to survive the Covid crisis," she added.

"We told them that it should be a targeted furlough scheme. We've wasted £2 billion on helping businesses that are actually thriving because its been a universal rather than focusing on the businesses that can't thrive at the moment because of the Covid situation."

Mr Sunak defended the government support during the coronavirus crisis, saying "those on the lowest incomes, the most vulnerable households, they're the people who have seen the most support and the most protection from this Conservative government."

Rain Newton-Smith, chief economist at the CBI, told MPs at the Treasury Select Committee that the new jobs support scheme is a "lifeline" but may need alterations if the pandemic continues to worsen.

She said: "At this next phase of the crisis we did need to see an evolution of the support and the jobs support scheme will help to save hundreds of thousands of jobs.

"But we may need to look at how that scheme is designed over the coming weeks if a crisis escalates.

"For some sectors and businesses we might need additional support."