Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has reacted to the beginning of the “winding down” process for the furlough scheme. The scheme has protected many workers’ wages through the pandemic, but over the next three months, firms will have to shoulder more of the costs of the scheme as the government starts to wind down its support. Staff will continue to receive 80% of their wages, but employers will pay part of that for the first time. Mr Carmichael has argued for targeted support for industries like tourism and hospitality, which may be unable to reopen to full capacity for months to come.
Commenting on the change, Mr Carmichael said:
“We all know that the level of economic support given to closed-down businesses over the last year and a half cannot last forever and a gradual winding down is better than a cliff-edge. What is concerning, however, is that the government has continued to ignore those of us who have argued for targeted support for those industries that are not being allowed to reopen at the same pace as others.
“Tourism and hospitality are not back to normal yet and indeed will not return to normal any time soon. If we leave these businesses in the lurch – stuck between an economic reality that they cannot operate at full throttle and an expectation that they must stand on their own two feet – then we cannot be surprised if there are unnecessary casualties. It will be hard to understand the logic of the furlough scheme if, having supported workers for over a year, we then do not give them proper support to get back to business.”