• Chamber of Commerce backs flexible furlough but calls for support for hardest hit sectors

    The adjusted ‘flexible furlough’ scheme allowing employers to bring staff back to work on a part-time basis will be welcomed by businesses and employees alike as a ‘step in the right direction’ business leaders have said.
     
    From July, employers will be able to bring furloughed staff back to work for a number of days and place them on furlough for the remainder, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced on Friday.

    However from August onwards, businesses must start to make a contribution to the 80 per cent salary costs currently being covered by the Government scheme.

    Employers will be required to pay National Insurance and pension contributions in August, stepping up to covering 10% of salary contributions from September and 20 per cent from October.

    Companies will no longer be able to add additional staff to the furlough scheme from 10 June.

    The Chancellor also extended the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme. The SEISS provides the self-employed with a taxable grant worth 80 per cent of average monthly profits over the last two years in a single payment of up to £7,500 for the period March-May 2020. A second grant will now be payable in August using the same criteria but on slightly less generous terms, offering 70 per cent of average monthly profits, up to £6,570.  

    Dan Fell Chief Executive of Doncaster Chamber said: “We have called for flexibility in the furlough scheme to allow some part-time return to work for some time so this is welcome news. 

    “Many of our members have told us that the ‘all or nothing’ approach has left them in difficulties. As lockdown gradually eases, they are finding they need more staff in some areas and fewer in others so this measure will help address that. 
    “What’s less welcome is the decision to close the scheme to new entrants from June 10, which seems unnecessary at a time when businesses really need to be able to be as flexible as they can be in order to respond to demand and retain workforce.

    “Similarly, so many our Doncaster businesses fall into the self-employed entrepreneur category and they have told us of difficulties in accessing support, so the extension to the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme is also positive news.

    “What is certain and remains to be addressed is the need to support some sectors differently as lockdown gradually eases. Tourism, hospitality and their associated supply chains remain amongst the most affected.

    “It is vital the Government offers sector specific support to these businesses, for many of whom social distancing guidelines will make it almost impossible to return to business profitably in the short term. Without a viable cashflow, even paying 20% of staff salary costs will simply not be possible for some.

    “If the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is to live up to its name and actually retain jobs in viable businesses in the long term as opposed to temporarily saving them, the Government needs to keep working with the chamber network and other business organisations to understand the real issues facing the business community at this crucial time.”

    Key to the Chamber’s ability to be a campaigner for the region’s businesses is data, and their current Doncaster Business Insight Survey, which feeds into decision-makers locally, regionally and nationally, is perhaps the most important they have ever carried out. Report how your business is faring here: https://bit.ly/DBI_June20 

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