Leading employment law specialist and partner of the network, Cartmell Shepherd Solicitors, has welcomed the decision to extend the Government’s furlough scheme until the end of September.
Joanne Stronach, Head of Employment Law and HR at legal firm Cartmells, said the move would give businesses time to recover following the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.
The furlough scheme, which pays up to 80% of salaries to those who cannot work because of Covid-19 restrictions, was scheduled to stop at the end of April. However, in his Budget announcement today Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that the scheme would now continue until the end of September.
Joanne said: “This is good news for businesses because it will allow them time to recover their customer base, work levels and orders after June 21, when we hope that all restrictions will be lifted under the Prime Minister’s roadmap.
“The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic will have a lasting impact on businesses, and it may take time for customers to return with confidence, or for order books to be filled.
“Employers need time to assess their businesses and the trading conditions before they have to make decisions about the future. Extending the furlough scheme will give them the breathing space they need to make those decisions.
“The scheme has undoubtedly slowed the number of redundancies over the course of the pandemic, but there is a long road to recovery ahead.”
Under the plans, the Government intends to taper its contribution to the furlough scheme, with employers expected to pay 10% towards the hours their staff do not work in July, increasing to 20% in August and September.
Employees will continue to receive 80% of their salary for hours not worked until the scheme ends.
Further support for self-employed workers was also announced, with more than 600,000 people – many of whom became self-employed in 2019/20 – now eligible for cash grants.
A fourth grant from the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will be available to claim from February, with a fifth grant available from May.
“The support measures for the self-employed is excellent news,” said Joanne, who is a director with Cartmell Shepherd Solicitors, which has offices in Cumbria and Northumberland. “The more support all business sectors can receive at this crucial time, the better.”
In total, 11.2 million employees across the UK have been furloughed since the scheme began last year. According to figures from the Treasury, as of February 15, a total of £53.8 billion had been claimed since the furlough scheme started.
The number of people on furlough increased by around 700,000 in January to around 4.7 million following the introduction of additional lockdown restrictions at the beginning of the month.