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Gloucestershire Business News

Chancellor told more needed after furlough extension

Chancellor Rishi Sunak provided further winter support for jobs when he announced the extension of the furlough scheme until the end of March.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme had been due to end on October 31 but was extended throughout the November lockdown but the Chancellor announced a further four months of help for employees who will have 80 per cent of their wages guaranteed.

He also increased help for the self-employed for the same period, but how have his latest decisions been received by business?

Punchline-Gloucester looked at some of the reactions from key sectors. 

Mike Cherry, national chairman, Federation of Small Businesses

"This latest intervention from the Chancellor is bold and much-needed. The ability to furlough staff on these terms until March will give employers an acutely-needed injection of confidence as they head into the festive period beset by disruption.

"It's encouraging to see the extension of generous support to around two million self-employed people - who don't enjoy many of the benefits afforded to employees, and are the employers of the future - outlined today.

"More widely, unless significant gaps in the business support landscape are addressed there will be far fewer jobs to furlough as we head into the winter. The Chancellor has taken a step forward, but there is still more work to do.

"Too many new business owners, sole traders, company directors and entrepreneurs without business premises are still largely excluded from support measures.

"That urgently needs to change, and local authorities must use discretionary funds to help these groups wherever possible.

"From here, we need to see gaps in the business support landscape addressed and a concerted effort made at every level of government to ensure guidance for small firms and the self-employed is accessible and crystal clear, especially as rules are being adjusted regularly."

Rain Newton-Smith, chief economist, CBI
"The Chancellor has built a bridge for business to spring 2021 and taken much-needed steps to help firms across the UK survive this winter.

"The Government must now use its time wisely and the review in January to get ahead of the curve and invest in a long-term vision for the economy.

"The Covid crisis makes the next six months even more crucial for Government to pursue its levelling-up ambitions and work towards a net-zero economy.

"Investing in infrastructure, skills and innovation at the next Spending Round will lead to a swifter recovery and a brighter future for our country."

Emma McClarkin, chief executive, British Beer & Pub Association
"The extension of the full furlough scheme until March will give businesses some certainty on the support they need for the difficult months ahead.

"This will give some comfort to our staff and provide our businesses with a better chance to survive these unprecedented times.

"The additional and upweighted support for the self-employed will also help many self-employed publicans.

"We will need to use the time in lockdown to review the current restrictions within the tiering system to ensure they are effective, proportionate and fair.

"We also need a longer-term stimulus package for our sector that enables it to play a leading role in the social and economic recovery. This requires an extension of the VAT cut and the Business Rates holiday, as well as a significant beer duty cut.

"If such a stimulus package is forthcoming, we will begin to see the light is at the end of the tunnel for our sector in this immensely difficult period."

Kate Nicholls, chief executive, UKHospitality
"Keeping jobs alive during this lockdown and throughout a bleak-looking winter period, which is likely to see businesses trading under severe restrictions, is key to the future survival of the sector.

"Hospitality is facing a tough winter, though, and businesses will need additional support if they are to survive.

"We will need enhanced grant support to keep venues alive and a solution to the ongoing rent debt problem that continues to linger over the sector. These must come alongside a clear roadmap for a return to business.

"Without these, the extended furlough scheme alone is not enough to keep hospitality alive and will have been a wasted investment of public funds.

"Surviving the winter is just the first step, too. Beyond that we need action to ensure that businesses can be revived and the sector can play its part in rebuilding the economy.

"Extending the VAT cut and business rates holiday, coupled with extensive Government promotion of tourism and hospitality, will be the bare minimum required."

James Calder, chief executive, Society of Independent Brewers
"A united hospitality industry days ago called for a commitment to extending the furlough scheme.

"Extension of furlough was only one of the asks from SIBA and other trade bodies - with grants for basic running costs for all pubs and breweries, extension of business rate cuts to breweries, a VAT cut on beer, compensation for beer destruction and big action on beer duty all being ignored ignored. SIBA, and other trade bodies will continue to campaign for a full, six-month package of measures for breweries, pubs and hospitality."

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