UK Government must now move to maintain full furlough payments

22 Sep 2020

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ICTU Assistant General Secretary Owen Reidy commented today:

“The UK government Job Retention Scheme which is operating for up to 250,000 workers across Northern Ireland is due to end next month, at the end of October 2020.

“The clear scientific advice and public health guidance to both the UK government and the Stormont Executive is that the virus remains active and even more prevalent, with an increase in cases of transmission over the recent period.

“There is a compelling argument that as the virus remains active and will continue to impede economic activity, the government job retention scheme must remain in full, well beyond the end of October.

“A cliff-edge withdrawal of the payment, combined with a possible no-deal Brexit, will have a devastating impact on jobs and workers in Northern Ireland. Last spring the government, wisely and humanely, adopted a ‘whatever it takes’ approach. This must be maintained.

“It would be incredibly damaging and counter productive to increase appropriate restrictions to economic activity, while at the same time not maintain the necessary job retention scheme which seeks to both maintain the employment relationship between the worker and the business and maintain to some extent, a workers income.

“It is positive to note that the Stormont parties and Executive are in agreement that this furlough scheme must be maintained. The progress made by its introduction in the early days of the pandemic would be completely undone if it was terminated as scheduled at the end of next month.

“In parallel with any further restrictions, the government need to state definitively that the scheme will be maintained until further notice.”