County Cllr Julie Gibson, Labour Group Shadow Cabinet Member for Economic Regeneration has welcomed the announcement from government to extend the job retention scheme for another six months. The scheme, announced last week, will top up the wages of workers whose firms can’t employ them on full time hours.
Cllr Gibson said: “Along with other partners, I recently called on the government to extend the furlough scheme past October to give some job security to workers in businesses adversely affected by Covid-19. The scheme will ensure that workers receive 77% of their full time wages, and although it won’t be targeted at particular sectors, companies using it will have to show that their turnover has been affected.”
To qualify for support, workers must undertake at least 33% of their normal working hours and for hours they are not working they will receive 33% of their pay from the government and 33% from their employer.
She continued: “I am pleased with the recent announcement particularly as the claimant count in West Lancashire still stands at 5.5% and I hope these measures will stop this climbing any further. However, I am concerned that the new scheme will fail to provide employers with sufficient incentives to keep workers on and leave them facing decisions over who to lay off instead. That risks putting all the pressure on the employers to decide who stays and who goes.”
“A better alternative would have been a job recovery scheme that would let businesses in key sectors allow staff to work reduced hours, backed by subsidies, to pay for a proportion of wages for the rest of the week. This would have protected many part-time workers whereas the new scheme encourages companies to retain some staff full-time and let others go.”
She concluded: “The announcement is a positive development but we need more to protect and create decent jobs. This scheme should be the first step in a wider package of support that delivers job creation particularly in the green economy and public sector and a real social safety net. I would urge the Chancellor to continue to work with businesses and the trade unions to develop this further.”