SHADOW Chancellor Anneliese Dodds says a flexible, sector-based plan is needed to help the country's economy to recover from the coronavirus crisis and ensure the people and places already disadvantaged are not left further behind.

Ms Dodds spoke to The Northern Echo ahead of an hour-long virtual public meeting with members of the public in County Durham, one a series she is holding with different parts of the country.

She said: "I want to hear from people who might have moved away from Labour, to understand more about why that happened and to hear how people think the economy can change for them.

"Clearly we didn't have the solutions around that for many, or we would have won the election.

"With the situation now, with the coronavirus crisis, it is important to understand the impact the necessary social distancing measures imposed to control this disease is having on people, so we can recover."

Ms Dodds said there is evidence that low and middle income families, women and deprived communities will be hardest hit.

"They are the people most likely furloughed, at risk of redundancy and have to be supported," she said.

As Chancellor Rishi Sunak outlined the Government's plan to taper the furlough scheme, with employers expected to pay 20 per cent from August, she called for greater flexibility.

She said: "There needs to be a sector based approach. For example, financial services where people are already able to get back to work largely as before cannot be compared to people in catering, hospitality and tourism where the industry in still largely in lockdown.

"The Government has to work with local businesses, local authorities, look at retraining and redeployment opportunities. The Future Jobs Fund wasn't perfect but it did help so we're really encouraging the Government to look at getting such schemes in place."

She added: "There is going to be a very big bill and it is undoubtedly a big task.

"We are currently experiencing the sharpest economic decline in 300 years and, with unemployment on the rise, many people are deeply worried about their financial security.

"When it comes to decisions about how to pay it off we've got to plan, we've got to learn from the last financial crisis – the very best off actually saw taxes reduced and the middle and low income saw a squeeze on living standards and we cannot have that again."

Ms Dodds said the Government and public can also do a lot to help the economy to recover, by supporting local businesses.

"I have been so moved at how different communities have come together to support each other and local businesses through this crisis and how business people have helped.

"We already had big problems on high streets and for small businesses because of unfair competition from largely internet-based companies and that has to change too."