Mixed reaction in our region to Rishi Sunak's Job Support Scheme

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced the Government will top up the wages of people who are on reduced hours due to the coronavirus crisis.

But the new Job Support Scheme has had a mixed response across the Calendar region, where quarter of a million jobs are dependent on tourism, and hundreds of thousands more are in the struggling hospitality industry.

The new finance scheme will support the wages of people who are working at least one-third of their normal hours.

Employers will continue to pay the wages of staff for the hours they work - but for the hours not worked, the government and the employer will each pay one third of their equivalent salary.

The scheme means employees can be paid 77% of their wages by working 33% of their hours.

It replaces the furlough programme.

Mr Sunak said the new Jobs Support Scheme - which will run for six months - would allow businesses to keep employees in a job on shorter hours.

All small and medium-sized firms are eligible for the scheme, but big businesses will only be allowed use the support if they have lost income due to coronavirus.

Mr Sunak said: "The government will directly support the wages of people in work, giving businesses who face depressed demand the option of keeping employees in a job on shorter hours rather than making them redundant."

To help cash flow for businesses, bounce back loans can now be paid over a period of ten years.

And to help the hospitality and tourism sector, VAT will be kept at 5% for that industry until the end of March next year.

But there was a mixed reaction from MPs in our region.

So far the government has paid the wages of nearly 12 million people and supported one million businesses.

It is estimated that almost 750,000 jobs have been lost in the UK during the coronavirus pandemic, despite the government spending more than £190 billion protecting the economy.

There was also mixed reaction from unions. One union leader accused the Chancellor Rishi Sunak of using a "plaster to cover a gaping wound" while jobs have already been lost.

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union, said the furlough scheme should have been extended beyond next month.

"Any support for jobs and key industries during this unprecedented global pandemic is to be welcomed," he said.

"However, the Chancellor's measures are akin to using a plaster to cover a gaping wound."

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "Unions have been pushing hard for continued jobs support for working people.

"We are pleased the Chancellor has listened and done the right thing.

"This scheme will provide a lifeline for many firms with a viable future beyond the pandemic. But there's still unfinished business."