Farry welcomes extension of furlough scheme but cautions further detail needed

Alliance MP Stephen Farry has welcomed the extension of the UK Government’s furloughing scheme until October but cautioned further detail is needed on how it will operate from this summer.

Dr Farry was speaking after Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the Job Retention Scheme, which pays 80 per cent of the wages of workers temporarily made unemployed due to the coronavirus pandemic, up to £2,500, will continue into the autumn. However, Mr Sunak said the Government would ask companies to ‘start sharing’ the cost of the scheme from August.

“This is welcome news, which Alliance had been lobbying the Treasury and Prime Minister about for the last several weeks,” said the North Down MP.

“It will bring some much-needed relief to workers and businesses worried about the intended closure of the furloughing scheme in June. It should avoid the cliff edge of mass redundancies at the end of June.

“However, we must see the  details on how the scheme will operate after July, when we enter the period in which the Government has asked businesses to help contribute to it. There is also a number of gaps in the economic support measures relating to the self-employed and those paid through dividends, plus those who have to fall back on statutory sick pay.

“This extension will give businesses breathing space to re-adapt, give workers time to reskill and allow shops and other businesses to implement social distancing measures to keep workers safe, and to protect jobs in the long run.

“Ultimately, we cannot assume a rapid economic recovery over the course of this year. Demand will remain sluggish and the Government needs to move towards putting in place an economic stimulus package to kickstart the economy and ensure people will have a vibrant economy to return to.”