Fast tracking spend on projects such as broadband networks, green technology, transport and housing could create 1.2 million jobs by 2022, according to a new report by the Trade Union Congress (TUC).
The report said investing in these key projects, which would cost the Treasury £85bn, would pay for itself by creating jobs across the economy and boosting growth and tax receipts.
It called for a new ‘economic consensus’ on building out of the recession and doing everything possible to avoid the damage of mass unemployment post-coronavirus.
Projects suggested within the report included expanding and upgrading the rail network, which it predicted would create 120,000 new jobs, plus building new social housing and retrofitting existing social housing, creating a further 500,000 jobs.
TUC warned the UK could “lose no time” in coming up with a rescue plan given there is less than a month until the government’s emergency budget.
The union also warned ministers to create urgent support packages for the sectors of the economy worse hit by the coronavirus crisis, such as hospitality and recruitment, to avoid redundancies as the Job Retention Scheme is wound down.
It suggested partial buyouts of struggling firms up to 30%, following the example of other countries.
This would come with guarantees from companies to introduce fair pay plans, rein in executive pay, improve corporate governance structures and pay their fair share of tax.
“The more people we can keep in work, the faster we’ll bounce back from this crisis. We should lose no time getting shovels in the ground,” said Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary.
“We need to work our way out of recession. Investing in infrastructure now will help to create jobs across the economy and limit the fallout from coronavirus. And it will stop the devastation of mass unemployment.”
Young people were picked out as those needing urgent support given those aged 25 and under are three times more likely to work in the sectors at greatest risk such as accommodation and food, arts, entertainment and recreation.
The TUC therefore called on government to set up a national recovery council with unions and employers and introduce a fully fund jobs guarantee programmes that offers paid jobs with training for young people.
It also recommended boosting social security support for those who lose their jobs and setting up sectoral working groups with unions and business groups to draw up road maps for specific industries.
This, the TUC said, would make sure the crisis didn’t widen existing labour market inequalities.