Extend furlough for top ten hardest hit sectors to avoid ‘Black Thursday’

The Liberal Democrats are today (30/09/21) demanding that furlough is extended for the ten sectors hardest hit by the pandemic, to avoid a “tidal wave” of job losses as the scheme comes to an end.

The party has warned that the country risks facing a “Coronavirus Black Thursday”, akin to the economic crisis of Black Wednesday in the 1990s unless the government rethinks its approach.

In a letter to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson Christine Jardine has said the furlough scheme should be extended for another six months for the ten sectors most reliant on it. She points out this would cost £600 million in total – or £100 million a month, well below the £850 million cost of last year’s “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme.

The latest figures show that 110,000 people are still on furlough in the ten industries with the largest proportion of employees on the scheme.This includes over one in two people (51%) working in air passenger transport, 46% in the travel agency sector, 35% in photography and 28% in arts and entertainment.

Christine Jardine MP is urging the Chancellor to “consider the impact on the lives of those that could find themselves out of a job at the end of the week.” She added it would be “devastating for countless families already facing a winter of spiralling bills and cuts to working benefits.”

In addition to furlough ending, the Universal Credit uplift will expire and the 5% VAT rate for tourism and hospitality will be brought to a close. This on top of the ongoing labour shortage and energy and fuel crisis has led the Lib Dems to call on the Government to support those relying on furlough and their families.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Christine Jardine MP said: “The withdrawal of furlough risks having a devastating impact on countless families already facing a winter of soaring energy bills.The government needs to rethink its approach or the country could face a Coronavirus Black Thursday.

Christine Jardine MP

“The Liberal Democrats are demanding that furlough is extended for the industries that are being hardest hit by the pandemic, to prevent a tidal wave of job losses in the coming weeks.This would support the most vulnerable workers through winter and cost less than what ministers spent on last year’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

“Thousands of people relying on furlough are worrying about their livelihoods at a time when the impact of the pandemic is far from over. Supporting them and their families is both the right and responsible thing to do.”

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