Following Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s statement on Tuesday (12 May) about plans to extend the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, Island MP Bob Seely has written to Mr Sunak seeking adjustments that he hopes will help Island businesses.
In his letter, Mr Seely asked the Chancellor to consider allowing furloughed staff to return to work part-time earlier than the planned 1 August date to align, as closely as possible, with step three of the recovery strategy - which could see openings for a number of businesses including hospitality such as food service providers, pubs and accommodation and leisure facilities such as cinemas from 4 July (at the earliest).
Mr Seely also asked the Chancellor to take a cautious approach when deciding how the employer contribution is calculated – where employers will be asked to pay a percentage towards the salaries of those furloughed staff who return to work part-time - due to businesses already feeling the effects of reduced footfall and revenue, which will continue due to social distancing requirements.
Bob said: “The extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme until the end of October is very welcome and will benefit those employers and staff in industries which are unable to revive during this period.
“I am also pleased the Chancellor is allowing furloughed staff to be able to return to work part-time, with employers being asked to pay a percentage towards their salaries. This will give flexibility to businesses and boost the economy.
“I do, however, have some reservations about the finer details over the dates which furloughed employees will be allowed to return part-time and how the employer calculations will be worked out, which I hope the Chancellor will take into consideration.
“I want to ensure that those businesses which may be permitted to open from 4 July, particularly those in the visitor and hospitality sectors, who rely on specific and limited parts of the year to generate an entire annual livelihood, will not be disadvantaged by the scheme.
“These businesses have already lost a significant part of their core operating period, and therefore will be looking to use as much of what remains of the season to trade, if considered viable to do so.”
Bob asked the Chancellor to consider his representations as the more specific details and information relating to part-time furloughing is worked up prior to being made available by the end of this month.
Bob said: “I am looking forward to working with the Chancellor, and others, as part of an industry taskforce to work out how best to support those in the leisure, hospitality and tourism sectors moving forward.
“I hope that some of the trade bodies representing these sectors will be given the opportunity to directly contribute to this work to explore workable solutions.”
Bob said he would be writing to Tourism Minister, Nigel Huddleston, as well.