‘Chancellor’s jobs support scheme may not offer much help to some sectors’ says Belfast Chamber

Commenting on today’s statement by the Chancellor, Belfast Chamber Chief Executive Simon Hamilton said, “The Chancellor’s Winter Economy Plan contains much to welcome but equally elements have already created concern amongst many businesses. The extensions to both the VAT cut for tourism and hospitality and the Bounce Back and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Schemes will be well received and help many businesses deal with the negative impact that the restrictions placed upon them to help stop the spread of COVID-19 have had. However, other announcements, heralded as bold by some, may not offer some sectors much help at all.

Whilst we will need to consider the detail, it is a struggle to see how many employers in hard hit sectors like retail and hospitality who are enduring significantly reduced trade and now face further restrictions like curfews will be able to afford to pay staff for hours they aren’t working. On the Treasury’s own example, a business would have to pay 55% of an employee’s wage for 33% of hours worked. That won’t be easy for a lot of businesses like pubs and shops to do from their much-reduced revenues. It seems that the Job Support Scheme may work for some jobs in some sectors but perhaps not those in the industries that need the most help. It is troubling that the use of the phrase ‘viable jobs’ indicates that some sectors, businesses, jobs and the people who work in them have almost been written off”.