Chancellor Urged to Close Gaps in Jobs Retention Scheme

The SNP has called on the UK government to amend the Jobs Retention Scheme guidance to ensure anyone who changed job before the scheme was announced receives support and allow businesses to undertake tasks necessary for their survival.

Guidance on the Jobs Retention scheme states that for a person “to be eligible for the subsidy, when on furlough, an employee cannot undertake work for or on behalf of the organisation”, including providing services or generating revenue.

It also states that an employer is not able to access government support for an employee taken on after 28th February this year.

SNP MPs including Drew Hendry (pictured), Tommy Sheppard and Angela Crawley have written to the Chancellor urging him to immediately update the Jobs Retention Scheme guidance to allow workers employed after 28th February to qualify for support and businesses to undertake non-commercial tasks essential to their survival – such as issuing refunds, re-scheduling, security checks to meet insurance obligations, payroll, and applying for government assistance.

There are other instances, where employers are nervous about committing to the furlough scheme because they fear losing out at a later date and for others, the cost of furloughing workers will cause cashflow difficulties in the short-term, therefore access to finance without personal liability strings attached is vital.

The SNP has said that more clarity is needed if the majority of employees are to benefit from this scheme.

Commenting, SNP Shadow Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary, Drew Hendry MP said:

“These are unique times and there are many instances where small firms are faced with the choice between stopping essential activities or going under by trying to pay salaries, without money coming in.

“In many cases, staff can and are willing to do some critical business maintenance work from home, and it would be welcome it the scheme were changed to allow them to do so.

“Workers employed after 28th of February 2020, who have lost their jobs because employers cannot furlough them under the current scheme, also need greater support.

“In my own constituency, the tourism sector contributes to over a fifth of our local economy and it is well known for scaling up business capacity in March in preparation for the summer season ahead – meaning that many of my constituents are now left unemployed and without furlough support.

“I am urging the Chancellor to find a way to support these workers so they too can benefit from 80% of their income.”

Commenting, Tommy Sheppard MP said:

“I welcome the measures the UK government has already introduced to help people during this pandemic but it is clear there are gaps that need to be filled.

“The Chancellor must heed the SNP’s call and change the guidance to ensure that nobody falls through these gaps – it is unfair to punish workers who chose to change job or move forward in their careers before the consequences of the pandemic were known.

“Key personnel in businesses must also be allowed to undertake such tasks to keep the business intact and in a position to bounce back once the Coronavirus crisis ends.

“This is particularly relevant to the cultural and entertainment sector.

“I represent a large number of theatres, clubs and venues, which, in order to survive must be able to issue refunds, re-schedule events, undertake security checks, and manage payroll.”