Labour shadow ministers have criticised Rishi Sunak’s new winter employment scheme for failing to support those in the festival and exhibition industries.

The scheme, which will top up the wages of those who are able to work a third of their usual hours, is aimed at supporting ‘viable’ jobs. For many in the events industry, which was singled out by the Prime Minister as being possibly closed for up to six months, it will offer little or no support.

Lucy Powell, the shadow minister for business and consumers, said: “The chancellor is consigning whole sectors of our economy to the scrapheap, damaging lives and livelihoods, and threatening the recovery. The failure of ministers to ensure an effective test, track and trace system means that many businesses have no idea when they can reopen. The decision to shut these firms out of the job support scheme adds insult to injury.

“Even for those who can access it, the job support scheme is badly designed and could lead to a wave of job losses, because the chancellor’s sums do not add up for businesses. He must think again, before the jobs crisis reaches tipping point.”

Labour shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds MP, speaking last Thursday after Sunak unveiled the new jobs scheme, said: “This comes too late for many people who have already lost their jobs – because the businesses employing them believed there would be no wage support following the end of next month.”