Representatives of the TUC and Cambridge Econometrics have called for the government to seek more industry counsel and create a “new and improved” furlough scheme, in order to support affected businesses through the latest restrictions.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Andrew Sentance, senior advisor to Cambridge Econometrics and Paul Nowak, deputy general secretary for the TUC, said that the government must extend the scheme in a “targeted way” which would strike a balance between the “range of stakeholders” at play.
Following yesterday’s announcements of curfews and increased mask-wearing in hospitality settings, Sentence emphasised that a new furlough scheme should focus on sectors which are “obviously being impacted by these new measures.”
The economist also criticised an increasingly “insular and concentrated” government, stating that the government needs to “bring together” the business community, the health professionals and the TUC in order to develop a successful model.
Of chancellor Rishi Sunak, Sentance said: “He’s got a budget coming up, maybe he can bring forward that budget in order to announce something which can help business through what is obviously going to be a very difficult time over the next three to six months.”
Speaking for the TUC, Nowak proposed some criteria for a new scheme. He said the TUC would want businesses to be able to “demonstrate” that they’ve been “directly affected” by the coronavirus restrictions in order to qualify.
The unionist added that businesses would need to demonstrate that staff were coming into work at least part-time, and that any support was “directly linked” to subsidising wages, in the TUC’s model of a new scheme.
He concluded: “I think the danger is that we’re sending out mixed messages. Just a few weeks ago we were all being encouraged to Eat Out to Help Out. The government was trying to encourage people to go back into work places and now they’ve u-turned.
“We have to ask ourselves why we are in this position. The government has to fix some of the underlying issues. We need a proper functioning test, trace and isolate system, one where low-paid workers can afford to self-isolate if they’re required to.”