Treasury must do more to prevent redundancies and economic hardship

29 May 2020

Prospect has welcomed the Chancellor’s extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) but have argued for greater focus for sectors and workers hit hardest by the pandemic.

HM Treasury sign in London

Under the government’s plan, employers using the CJRS to furlough staff will gradually be asked to contribute more in salary after July while the SEISS is also extended to October at a 70% rate.

However Prospect warned that businesses that have been closed by government need more direct support from government to avoid redundancies and condemned the failure to plug the gaps in the schemes that leave many freelancers and other workers with no support.

Prospect general secretary Mike Clancy said:

“We recognise the need to gradually ease off on the support for sectors which are now reopening, and welcome the measured approach the Chancellor has taken compared to some of the briefings.

“However the stark reality is that there are currently many viable employers with no cash-flow who are looking at months before they can fully resume operations.

“Even asking for modest contributions from these employers before they reopen will trigger a wave of avoidable redundancies. Government must act urgently to prevent this with a package of targeted support aimed at sectors that will take longer to unlock.

“But despite the Chancellor’s protests to the contrary, there are many thousands of freelance and self-employed workers who do not qualify for either scheme and have been continually overlooked by the government throughout this crisis.

“It appears those workers have now been abandoned by government, and they are right to conclude that. Even at this late stage the Chancellor must reconsider his decision to offer no further support to these workers by failing to close the gaps.

“The self-employed will long remember this time and how they were treated.”