Furlough Scheme ‘must be extended’ say retailers and local politicians
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Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said: “This increase in the furlough scheme illustrates just how much the lockdown is costing our local economy. On a near daily basis, we hear from members that their business will not survive this pandemic. The Chancellor must extend the furlough scheme beyond April if these businesses are to stand any chance of survival.”
NI Economy Minister Diane Dodds also called on Rishi Sunak to extend the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CRJS) and Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) beyond April. 94,800 workers in NI were furloughed using the CJRS as at December 31 - an increase from 68,000 at October 31. Around 52,000 self-employed individuals in NI had claimed the third SEISS grant up to the same date - around 55% of all eligible self-employed workers.
She said: “These are startling figures which underline the continued economic costs of Covid-19 on individuals and their livelihoods. I have always been clear that the furlough and the self-employed schemes are essential and must remain in place until there are clear signs of economic recovery.
“It is vital workers across Northern Ireland must be able to access the support they need, not just to protect their livelihoods now, but to be in a position to plan ahead towards recovery with some degree of certainty.”
Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson said the furlough statistics is reflective of the increased restrictions. “It’s likely that the number of workers on furlough remains at this level or higher,” she said.
“The current restrictions will be in place until at least the beginning of March and eased gradually. The British government must move to extend the scheme further. The British government also needs to remove the burden of national insurance and pension contributions on employers, particularly for small businesses. For some employers these contributions are a real struggle. This is putting jobs at risk because employers cannot keep up their contributions over the next number of weeks.”
“It is vital that the British government moves to extend furlough and ensures businesses can support jobs to give much-needed certainty to businesses, workers and their families,” Ms. Anderson added.