On 12th May in Parliament Gerald Jones, the Labour MP for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney, urged the Chancellor Rishi Sunak to commit to revising the UK Government’s coronavirus furlough scheme immediately, as thousands in Wales and across the UK continue to miss out on support due to the scheme’s cut-off date.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which has just been extended to the end of October 2020, pays 80% of staff’s wages at companies affected by coronavirus, provided they were on a payroll scheme on or before 19th March 2020.
However, thousands of people in Wales and across the UK who either left their jobs prior to 19th March, or have started new jobs and were not yet on the payroll by this date do not currently qualify for the scheme, and are missing out on much-needed support.
On 12th May in Parliament, during an Urgent Question on Government support available for furloughed employees, Gerald urged the Chancellor to revise the scheme immediately to make it more flexible and ensure people no longer fall through the gaps and miss out on support.
Speaking in Parliament, Gerald said:
“The UK Government’s furlough scheme is hugely welcome, but it needs greater flexibility.
“I hear what the Chancellor says, but the Opposition have set out ways in which the furlough scheme arrangements could be adapted to include new starters who have just missed out without risking fraudulent payments. Will he give those proposals urgent and serious consideration?”
In his response, the Chancellor defended the scheme’s cut-off date of 19th March and said that although increased flexibility had been considered, any further changes would make the scheme too difficult to operate.
Speaking after the session in Parliament, Gerald added:
“It is shocking that just because people were due to start new jobs after 19th March, or weren’t on the company payroll in time, they are being punished due to no fault of their own.
“Thousands of people are being failed by the Government’s scheme and left with no income or financial security at a hugely difficult and unprecedented time, and very few new job prospects now available due to the ongoing pandemic, and I am calling on the Chancellor to step up and make the necessary changes to ensure this essential lifeline of support gets to all those who desperately need it.”