The furloughing scheme is concealing the true picture of unemployment in the UK, providing financial support to employees whilst their employers are facing closure.
The #RaiseTheBar campaign believes adjustments to the furloughing scheme have created an unlevel playing field of support meaning businesses are missing out on vital funds to stay afloat whilst their employees are able to remain financially supported on furlough.
The situation is likely to reach tipping point this month, with the next quarterly rent due on Wednesday 24 June set to force businesses to close with overheads and the cost of re-opening depleting cash reserves.
Matthew Sims, CEO, Croydon BID and co-founder of #RaiseTheBar campaign said, “The Government is in danger of pushing businesses to the brink of the abyss and in turn leaving businesses with no choice but to make serious decisions regarding their future operation, leading to redundancies and even closure.
“If this happens, the positive work of the Job Retention Scheme would have been short-lived, leaving the country, long term in a far worse position and having spent millions on financial aid supporting the employee, but ignoring the employer.”
Ian Egerton, owner of The Stress Exchange hair and beauty salon in London and President of the National Hair & Beauty Federation said, “By ignoring businesses such as mine with business rates just over the £51,000 threshold, the Government is simply kicking the can down the road.
“Not only am I not entitled to financial grants, I also have no income at all, yet quarterly rents are still expected to be paid at the end of this month. This is not sustainable. Businesses will fold and people will lose their jobs. A VAT delay from the last quarter does not help as ultimately the money still has to be paid back. I do not expect the government to fund failing businesses, however with no means of income and outgoings still expected, they urgently need a common sense approach to fairness.”
Night Czar, Amy Lamé said, “Whilst we welcome the Government extension of the job retention scheme, this crisis will require long-term economic intervention from the Government. Bars, pubs and clubs remain in lockdown without the levels of cashflow they need to pay wages, National Insurance and pension contributions with their future looking bleak to impossible. Without more help from the Government, they will be forced into widespread redundancies, which would have a further negative impact on our economy, culture and society.”
Andrew Taylor, Mr Fox pub Croydon and co-founder of #RaiseTheBar campaign, “Now is the time for the Government to provide the same level of financial support to employers as well as employees. With over 13 of my staff on furlough and the cost of re-opening my pub in excess of £8,000 with not a penny made over the past 10 weeks I struggle to understand how the Government doesn’t see my lack of cash flow as a problem that needs solving. Noone wants to make redundancies and no one wants to create another financial pressure, but it seems like the elephant in the room is we have millions of people unemployed who are being given a lifeline to nowhere.”
Claire Alexander, owner The Ebrington Arms and The Killingworth Castle in the Cotswolds [the Good Pub Guide Gloucestershire dining pub of the year 2019], ”Having received no financial grants simply because of our rateable value being over the £51k threshold, the future of the business and the staff we employ is now seriously at risk.
“The furlough scheme may have maintained our staff to date but as business owners we face stark and challenging decisions on whether we can survive.
“Across our two pubs, we employ 45 dedicated staff, each one as committed as the other to our joint success. However, without the financial support from Government, through the grant system, we will have little choice but to make redundancies, contradicting the sole purpose of the furlough scheme.
“As it stands, the job retention scheme offers a short-term solution, costing millions to the tax payer, without considering how to support the sustainability of businesses like ours, that employ them.”