Rishi urged to rethink Furlough Scheme

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is being urged to ‘carefully consider’ extensions to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) or Furlough Scheme before it closes in October.

As part of an inquiry into the impact of Coronavirus, a Treasury Select Committee warned of mass unemployment if there was no extension beyond 31st October.

From 1st October, employers can claim 60% for furloughed employees wages, up £1,875 for the hours the employee is on furlough, down from 80% of earnings up to £2,500 in August.

In July, the Treasury Committee called on the Government to provide more support for those who missed out on coronavirus support schemes, including freelancers, contractors and directors.

Mel Stride, chair of the Treasury Committee, said ‘The Committee’s disappointment that the Government did not implement our recommendations to help those who have fallen through the gaps in support persists. Our second report of the inquiry focuses on emerging challenges as lockdown measures are lifted, and targeting assistance effectively at those businesses and individuals who need it.’

‘The Chancellor should carefully consider targeted extensions to the coronavirus job retention scheme and explain his conclusions.’

‘The key will be assisting those businesses who, with additional support, can come through the crisis as sustainable enterprises, rather than focusing on those that will unfortunately just not be viable in the changed post-crisis economy.’

Of particular interest will be the retail sector, which was already struggling before the pandemic hit the UK. Lockdown brought a considerable increase in on-line sales, which is unlikely to reverse now that bricks and mortar stores have reopened. Unemployment numbers here are likely to rise significantly, but would Government support be any more than a tool to delay the inevitable? I’m very glad not to be in the Chancellor’s shoes at the moment!

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