The expansion of the Job Support Scheme, announced by the Chancellor earlier today, is a welcome step towards providing short-term help to businesses who are expected to face closure due to enhanced public health restrictions. Whilst this new furlough scheme will cushion the blow for those businesses forced to shut their doors, today’s announcements bring no clarity or support to those firms which aren’t required to close but continue to face major financial challenges.
Cllr Andrew Waller, Executive Member for Economy and Strategic Planning, commented:
“The significant expansion of the Job Support Scheme is welcome news and partly answers the calls of Northern leaders and businesses, who have expressed serious concerns regarding the lack of adequate financial support for businesses affected by regional and local public health restrictions.
“The extra support measures will go some way to support hospitality businesses, who are reportedly expected to see stricter restrictions come into place. Worryingly, the scheme is only expected to start on the 1st of November, weeks after new Government restrictions are expected to be introduced. The confusion and lack of clarity in Government’s communications with businesses and local authorities is causing further distress to business across the city and region. Business needs certainty, support and a clear strategy in this challenging period.
“Whilst this new furlough scheme will cushion the blow for those businesses forced to shut their doors as infections in some parts of the North of England rise, today’s announcements will bring no clarity or support to those firms which aren’t required to close but will still be hit by stricter local restrictions. Areas which face less stricter public health restrictions are still seeing businesses face a major financial challenge. The support packages announced by the Chancellor earlier in September still do not go anywhere near enough to provide the support necessary. Industries like the arts, hospitality, and retail face a very challenging winter and require urgent targeted help. Importantly, this also must include the self-employed, who once again have missed out on any extra Government support.
“I have written to the Chancellor and the Business Minister multiple times urging for such support to be introduced to aid the Council’s efforts in retaining employment in the city and supporting businesses across all sectors.
“The support businesses urgently require needs to be of a scale that will ensure they are able to stay afloat. Any support schemes need to additionally provide a localised version of furlough support to recognise the significant expenditure on wages. The Government must proactively engage with businesses in developing support packages to understand the true scale and urgency of the challenge. Without extended and targeted support such as this, the potential of a major wave of job losses facing cities and towns across the North of England is on a scale never experienced before.
“With the North of England facing enhanced public health restrictions to save lives, we must also recognise the impact that lack of urgent financial support will have on the livelihoods of people across the region. Whilst public health remains our top priority, as the city bonds together to minimise the impact of the second wave of the pandemic, more urgent support is needed to save our businesses. We will continue to work with the city’s businesses and partners to ensure that all is done to protect livelihoods and jobs people across York.”