Committee adds pressure
MPs call for ‘targeted extension’ to furlough
Rishi Sunak: ruled out an extension
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is coming under further pressure to introduce “targeted extensions” to the coronavirus furlough scheme.
The scheme has supported workers temporarily laid off but is due to end on 31 October.
The Treasury Select Committee has joined those calling for action to avoid widespread job losses if the job subsidy scheme is not extended.
It has agreed with the government that a blanket retention of the scheme would not be good value for money, but feels there is scope to support selected sectors.
Committee chairman Mel Stride said: “The chancellor should carefully consider targeted extensions to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and explain his conclusions.
“The key will be assisting those businesses who, with additional support, can come through the crisis as sustainable enterprises, rather than focusing on those that will unfortunately just not be viable in the changed post-crisis economy.”
Under the retention scheme workers placed on leave have received 80% of their pay up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.
But firms are now making a contribution to wages as the scheme began to wind down.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has ruled out an extension, instead saying that firms will be given £1,000 for every furloughed worker still in employment at the end of January.
He is, however, considering tax increases to claw back some of the money paid out.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma will today announce that businesses with creative ideas to boost the UK’s manufacturing capabilities, including using robotics, AI and augmented reality, are to share £300m of joint government and industry funding.
Through the Manufacturing Made Smarter Challenge, the government will invest £147m – backed by further funding from industry – to support businesses implement new tech to boost their manufacturing productivity, helping them reach new customers, create thousands of highly skilled jobs, slash carbon emissions and reduce prices for consumers.
The first £50m of the funding is being allocated to 14 manufacturing projects involving about 30 small or medium businesses, 29 larger enterprises and nine universities, with the remaining funds due over the next five years.
Mr Sharma said: “Increasing productivity is vital for any business, and having the right new technologies in place can help manufacturers make better products to compete and thrive.
“By helping manufacturers to reduce costs, cut waste, and slash the time it takes to develop their products, this multi-million pound uplift will help fire up the cylinders of productivity as we build back better from the pandemic.”