The government’s furlough scheme should be extended to allow businesses more time to recover from the economic shock of the pandemic, Croydon Council and Chamber of Commerce have said.
The furlough scheme is due to end on 30 September with the share of costs businesses have to pay doubling to 20% from August. According to the latest official figures, 13,000 Croydon residents were thought to have been furloughed at the end of June.
In a joint letter to the Chancellor, the Leader of Croydon Council, Councillor Hamida Ali, Councillor Manju Shahul-Hameed, cabinet member for business recovery, and the Lead of the Croydon Division of the South East London Chamber of Commerce, Julie Agbowu, called on the government to delay the doubling of business furlough contributions.
The letter highlights that 46,141 Croydon households are currently reliant on Universal Credit, an increase of almost 20,000 households (73%) compared with the same time last year, and urges the government to take additional steps to prevent further job losses.
Writing to the Chancellor, the political and business leaders said: “As furlough withdraws and staffing costs increase, businesses will face difficult decisions about whether they can afford to keep staff employed. We must do all we can to support them in that.
“We cannot allow further families to face hardship because of decisions made in Whitehall. Given the month-long extension of restrictions to July 19th, we would strongly urge you to delay the planned doubling of business furlough costs in August.”
The letter also called for more action to “ensure people can do the right thing to keep their community safe without financial penalty” by increasing the financial support to be given to those needing to self-isolate.
“The economic impact of the pandemic threatens to leave a long shadow if the government withdraws support for businesses too soon. Over 46,000 Croydon households are already relying on Universal Credit for support, that’s up almost 20,000 since last year. We need government to do everything possible to protect jobs and give businesses the best chance to succeed in challenging circumstances.”
Councillor Manju Shahul-Hameed, cabinet member for communities, safety and business recovery