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Gloucestershire Business News

Changes to furlough scheme "will protect thousands" of firms

The Federation of Small Businesses has welcomed the Chancellor's extension of the the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

And chairman Mike Cherry said the decision to make furloughs more flexible from August would make a huge difference to members.

He said: "Extending the Job Retention Scheme (JRS) and allowing small firms to furlough staff on a part-time basis will protect thousands of livelihoods over the months ahead.

"Our members have been telling us loud and clear that the ability to furlough staff on a part-time basis will be central to aiding gradual recovery at a time when economic activity is still in the doldrums.

"We await further detail on the contributions that will be required of small employers after July."

He continued: We need to ensure that those obligations are affordable for the many businesses that have had no revenue coming in for months now, but still have fixed overheads to worry about.

"Our five million-strong self-employed community is also seeking reassurances about the measures that will be taken to avoid a cliff edge moment where income support is concerned.

"Many have benefited from the hugely ambitious income support scheme that was established for them - some have not - but they will all need additional help from this government over the coming months.

"Policymakers may have to look very closely at additional hardship funds for those that are currently falling through the gaps."

Fresh government guidance on how firms can safely return to work was greeted as a step forward by the Federation.

Mr Cherry said:"We engaged with the Government on these guidelines and it's good to see that our feedback on behalf of 5.8million small businesses and the self-employed has been taken on board.

"While only the first step on a long journey, this guidance is practical, workable and proportional for small businesses.

"The majority have very robust health and safety measures in place, and these guidelines acknowledge that fact."

Coronavirus: How to prepare your business to return safely 

He continued: "Small employers often offer the kinds of flexible working environments that can be found wanting in big corporations.

"They face a long journey ahead, but this guidance equips them with practical suggestions and advice they'll need to have positive conversations with their staff as they look to bringing teams back into workplaces.

"This is just the start of getting the economy back on its feet."

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