Sky News Special: Hard Times and A Town Like Merthyr

Hard Times are coming to Britain – and to Sky News. In a day of special programming from 0700 on Tuesday 7 September Sky News: Hard Times will ask where the cuts are already biting and find out whether the public is yet engaged.

Sky Presenter Dermot Murnaghan, the man who got on his bike to check out the Economic Cycle in 2009, will travel from Scotland to the South West of England to offer a snapshot of how Britain is adjusting to an age of increasing austerity, talking to the businesses bracing themselves for what’s to come.

In Edinburgh, Dermot will present live from inside the HQ of the Royal Bank of Scotland – the bank 83% owned by the taxpayer. He’ll speak to one of those involved in the rescue of RBS as well as Iain McMillan, Director of CBI Scotland, about his Manifesto for Scotland and the recommendations he is making to the Scottish Government on industry matters.

In Kilmarnock, Sky News examines the knock-on effect of 750 jobs currently under threat at the local whisky factory. Local MP, Cathy Jamieson will speak to Sky News about the potential effect on businesses which rely on the factory for their livelihoods.

In the North East, Dermot presents live from Newcastle Quayside – one of the city’s first areas of regeneration. In the 1980’s and 1990’s the city lost many of its traditional industries but reinvented itself through IT, the public sector and service industries. Now those jobs are under threat, and, as the region faces up to its second period of austerity in thirty years, Dermot will look at how the North East of England can engineer a new renaissance. Trevor Mann, Vice President of Manufacturing at Nissan UK, talks to Sky News on the need for sustained inward investment into the region.

In the North West of England, Sky News will look at the future of Liverpool where the development agency which pumped millions into Merseyside has been told to cut its budget by £15m. This has led to the axing of school rebuilding and cuts to programmes aimed at tackling long-term unemployment and improving health and housing. City Councillors fear a return to the 1980s with rising unemployment and jobs, literally, heading South. Dermot will be interviewing guests including Council Leader Joe Anderson about proposed budget cuts and school closures.

In Exeter, Government cuts are threatening plans for the ‘Exeter and East Devon Growth Point’ – a completely carbon-neutral community with schools, a business and science park. With the local development agency being axed, the main funding is drying up, and the Council and local businesses must wait for the results of the Comprehensive Spending Review. Sky News speaks to guests including Tim Jones, Chair of the Devon and Cornwall Business Council, about the situation which is jeopardising thousands of medium and long-term employment prospects, and will hear about the biggest blight on the future of many young people in the region – the lack of affordable housing.

Also as part of Sky News: Hard Times, Jeff Randall travels to South Wales to investigate why Merthyr Tydfil has lost the will to work. With a third of the working population on some form of unemployment hand-out, and more than 20% of children living in homes where no-one works, the Government’s proposed welfare reforms are going to hit the town hard.

In a half-hour documentary entitled A Town Like Merthyr, TX 1930, Jeff discovers a dependency culture created by benefits, made worse by widespread drug abuse. He reveals research by Cardiff University, which suggests a claimant who has been on incapacity benefits for more than a year is more likely to die than get a job, and he talks to some of the teenagers of Merthyr, who have already written off their futures.

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