29 May 2020

Could there be changes to the Government furlough scheme?

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is expected to make an announcement about official changes to the furlough scheme imminently.

It has been indicated he will ask businesses to contribute to their employees wages from August - approximately  20%.

Under the Government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme launched in March, employers can claim 80% of furloughed staff's wages, up to £2,500 a month. The scheme has been extended until October.

Andrew Goodacre, Bira's CEO, said of the potential changes: "We campaigned for an extended and a more flexible furlough scheme, and were delighted therefore when the Chancellor decided to do both.

"The cost of this extended scheme is set to be shared and we believe that retailers fully understand that they will contribute to the costs. The furlough scheme will allow retailers to open on the June 15 and operate a business not trading to its full capacity, whilst still keeping people in employment."

The Chancellor is also being called to make extend the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), currently only available for three months' worth of income - up to £7,500.

Bira has raised concerns retailers still not able to reopen on June 15, such as hairdressers, will still require the scheme until they are back up and running.

Andrew added: "We have never been happy with this scheme because too many self-employed independent retailers did not qualify and consequently received very little support. Not only should the scheme be extended given the phased re-opening of the high street, it should also be changed so that more hard working people qualify."

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