Mounting Calls for Rethink on Furlough Wind Down After New Restrictions

Following yesterday’s announcements of further Coronavirus restrictions – which could last up to 6 months – calls have ramped up from businesses and third sector organisations for the Chancellor to rethink ending the furlough scheme next month.

Drew Hendry MP (pictured), has said Rishi Sunak must heed the calls from devolved governments, opposition parties, businesses, trade unions, charities and economists and U-turn on his decision to end the furlough scheme in the middle of a worsening global pandemic.

The Federation of Small Business, Confederation of British Industry, the Resolution Foundation and the Governor of the Bank of England have all called on the UK government to deliver a second round of support measures to protects jobs and help businesses stay afloat as a new round of restrictions is set to hit business.

Last night, entrepreneur and former Pizza Express boss Luke Johnson told Newsnight that he estimates “of the 3 million [on the furlough scheme], at least a million … will be made redundant” and yesterday Whitbread announced that 6000 jobs would be lost across Premier Inn hotels and restaurants at the end of the furlough scheme – the largest job losses announced by a hospitality business during the pandemic so far, according to the Times.

The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) labour force survey revealed UK unemployment has risen to 4.1% and the number of workers in employment has fallen by almost 700,000 since March.

Separately, analysis from the Scottish Government shows extending the furlough scheme by eight months could save around 61,000 jobs in Scotland.

Commenting, Drew Hendry MP said:

“With the infection rate worsening and further restrictions coming into effect, it would be completely reckless for the Tories to scrap the furlough scheme next month.

“The Chancellor must rethink this decision and extend the scheme to protect jobs and businesses.

“The SNP has been warning for months that ending the scheme in October would be premature – given the likelihood of a second wave of the virus which we are now seeing – and result in thousands of people losing their jobs and good businesses going under at the worst possible time.

“If the Tory government bull-dozes ahead with its plans, unemployment could soar to 1980s levels and inflict lasting social damage on communities across Scotland and the UK.

“Ireland, France, Germany and other normal independent countries have already extended their furlough schemes and delivered investment to save jobs.

“In stark contrast, Westminster is choosing to leave Scotland powerless and failing to save 61,000 jobs.

“Scotland should not have to wait for Westminster to act.

“The only way to properly protect Scotland’s interests is to become an independent country.”