I have applied to the Backbench Business Committee for a debate on the furlough scheme.
The announcement that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) would be extended to people employed by 19 March was initially welcomed. However, it is now clear from the detail that the UK government’s strict criteria on Real Time Information submissions will prevent many businesses and employees from benefiting at all, and the recent changes will in fact only benefit around 20,000 of those previously excluded.
I have urged the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make meaningful changes to ensure that anyone who had a contract of employment by 19 March is covered, as promised. I has also tabled a parliamentary motion and applied for a debate on the issue.
The Chancellor’s announcement last week was merely window-dressing. It’s now clear from the detail that this announcement is not what it seemed. Thousands of businesses and workers will continue to lose out unless the Chancellor makes meaningful changes to fix the serious gaps in the CJRS.
I have been contacted by many constituents who say the narrow criteria being imposed has dashed their hopes of help. Hundreds of thousands of people across the UK have found themselves with no income, no support and now end in sight, through no fault of their own, because of arbitrary cut-off dates and bureaucratic barriers imposed by the UK Government.
Frankly, that’s not good enough. The Chancellor HM Treasury must act to ensure that anyone who had a contract of employment by 19 March gets the support they need.
From the start of this crisis, the Scottish National Party (SNP) has urged the UK Government to introduce a comprehensive financial package so no one is left behind. It’s vital that the Chancellor introduces a guaranteed minimum income and strengthened welfare protections so everyone can get the help they need.