MP Bob Seely has welcomed further details on the Government’s extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and the inclusion of some of the changes which he had pushed for.
Last month, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the extension of the CJRS until the end of October and confirmed furloughed workers could return to work part-time from the start of August, with employers paying a percentage towards their salaries.
However, in a letter to Mr Sunak the Island’s MP said while he welcomed the extension of the CJRS, he was concerned the August date could significantly disadvantage businesses permitted to open from 4 July. He therefore asked the Chancellor to adjust the scheme, particularly to help those working in the hospitality and tourism sectors.
Having worked through the finer details of the scheme, the Chancellor has now announced that furloughed employees will be permitted to return to work part-time in July.
Bob said: “I'm delighted the Chancellor has announced that furlough flexibility will start a month earlier, in July. I’m also glad that he has listened to representations I and others made, which will help businesses up and down the country but particularly here on the Isle of Wight.
“Island businesses in the hospitality and tourism sectors 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 and safe to do so.”
Bob had also called on the Chancellor to take a cautious approach when deciding how the employer contribution was calculated, and said he was therefore pleased that the Chancellor had now done this by announcing that the Government would continue to pay - until the end of August - 80% of wages (up to a cap of £2,500) for the hours not worked. Employers would only be asked to pay National Insurance and pension contributions during August, along with payment for the hours which the employees do work.
The Chancellor said the level of government grant provided through the job retention scheme would be slowly tapered to reflect that people will be returning to work with a reduction to paying 70% of wages for the hours not worked in September, and then 60% in October.
Bob added: “These changes will encourage businesses to re-open, whilst recognising that initially they may not be able to offer their employees the same number of hours that they previously worked.
“However, it is evident that hospitality and tourism businesses continue to face a number of challenges in being able to re-open in a viable manner, and I will be making further representations to the Government later this week, seeking further support for these sectors.”
Bob said he was also pleased that the Chancellor had announced the extension of the Government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme which would see those eligible able to claim a second and final grant in August capped at £6,570.