THE focus must be on preserving current jobs and businesses, a leading politician has said.

In an interview with the Leader, Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party, said the news of job losses, particularly in the Broughton community, will be ‘heavily felt’.

Last week, Airbus announced plans to reduce its UK workforce by 1,700 as part of efforts to safeguard its future.

The company later confirmed that more than 1,400 jobs are at risk at Airbus' Broughton plant compared to 295 in Filton.

Sir Keir Starmer said the focus now has to be on ‘protecting the jobs that exist at the moment’ and supporting the businesses at the moment.

He added: “That’s why I said a laser-like focus on jobs, jobs, jobs is what is needed right now and that is where we will be pushing the Prime Minister on this.

“I know the news of job losses is going to be very heavily felt in local communities and the supply chains.”

The UK is ‘facing an economical crisis’ on a scale which has not been seen ‘in a generation’.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has battled coronavirus himself, previously announced to the nation that ‘we will build, build, build’.

He said: “We will build better and build greener but we will also build faster, and that is why the chancellor and I have set up Project Speed to scythe through red tape and get things done.”

The PM went on to say that the country will ‘not just bounce back’, but that it will ‘bounce forward, stronger and better and more united than ever before’.

However, Sir Keir Starmer said the focus must be on protecting jobs and protecting people’s livelihoods.

He told the Leader: “We have to do everything we can to preserve those jobs at Airbus, because it is an important employer.

“For those who aren’t employed in Airbus, they may well be employed in supply chains and businesses going into Airbus. I’ve had a look at it, I know what it looks like and I know how dependent communities are on it.

“We’ve got to preserve those jobs. We know from not too distant history what it’s like when the main employer in a community falls away and there are job losses, and the impact it can have.

“Therefore, everything must be done to preserve those jobs. These are jobs in good businesses, and we must work hard. Welsh Government will do what it needs to do but UK Government has also really got to step up to the plate on this.”

The Labour Leader said a set plan is needed and a budget needs to be set.

He added: “Frankly, I’d like to see a budget met on Wednesday, not a financial statement. I’d like to see the Government say, on the bring of an economical crisis, the scale of which we haven’t seen in a generation, here’s a plan.

“We need more than a financial statement, we need a budget that puts money into the system. Within that budget, I’d like to see a continuation of the Furlough Scheme for businesses who are still struggling because of the circumstances/

“One of the main concerns I have is that the Furlough Scheme is a one size fits all and the reason job losses are being announced now, is because now is when the winding down of the Furlough Scheme is beginning to bite.

“So, I’d like to see that budget. I’d like to see a plan and I’m really concerned that the Furlough Scheme needs to be much more flexible than it is at the moment.”

It is predicted the recovery phase for Airbus would not come until towards the end of 2021/start of 2022.

Paul McKinlay, Airbus Senior Vice President UK, said that there had been a 40 per cent reduction in production output and although the numbers were ‘significant’, the site would still have a ‘very significant population of highly skilled people’.

He added that the company is ‘determined wherever we can’ to mitigate the number of compulsory redundancies through voluntary redundancy, early retirement or even shortening a working week.

However, he said that options ‘cannot be ruled out’ but they continue talks with both governments in terms of funding and upskilling.