The Job Retention Scheme, or furloughing, was introduced by the UK government to support businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Introduced at the start of March, furloughed employees are eligible to apply for a grant that covers 80% of their usual monthly wage, up to £2,500 a month, lessening the financial pressure on businesses without them having to make redundancies.
According to the BMPA, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has a “win-win” opportunity if he acts now to modify the Job Retention Scheme to allow businesses in designated key industries to ‘part furlough’ staff for some, but not all, of their working week.
The BMPA explained that food businesses that have been heavily impacted by the closure of the restaurant and food service sector would win by not having to completely close down; the Public would win by retaining vital supplies and services; and taxpayers would win by reducing the bill for wage subsidies which, according to the Resolution Foundation, are on track to be at least three times higher than original Treasury calculations.
Nick Allen, CEO of BMPA said: “There are hundreds of businesses in key industries whose operations have been curtailed but are still able (and required) to continue operating to keep vital supplies and services going. However, the current furloughing scheme is an ‘all or nothing’ measure; staff can either work 100% of the time or they have to cease work entirely.
“For many businesses this is proving to be a blunt instrument because reducing production isn’t as simple as chopping out half a workforce. Maintaining operations requires a broad range of staff but for less time.
“My industry, along with many key industries, cannot understand why this simple idea is not getting traction and we would urge the Chancellor to consider making this small change to the Job Retention Scheme in order to unlock some big ‘wins’.”