Commenting on the Chancellor’s announcement on additional changes that will be made to the Job Retention Scheme, Ann McGregor, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NI Chamber), said:
“The Chancellor has struck a balance that will help many firms bring furloughed staff back to work flexibly over the coming months.
“The gradual reduction in furlough contributions from the UK Government will give businesses additional time to redevelop revenue. The decision to give businesses maximum flexibility to bring people back part-time means that individual firms can decide the hours and shift patterns their employees will work on their return which is helpful.
“The furlough scheme has helped companies here preserve thousands of jobs through lockdown, and has been accessed by 85% of NI Chamber members, but many firms still face significant uncertainty ahead. On that basis, closing the scheme to new applicants in June feels premature, and risks undermining some of the work already done to preserve businesses and jobs.
“Whilst today’s announcement is welcome, the Chancellor must also be open to additional and new support for those sectors that will stay closed the longest over the coming months.”
On the extended support for the self-employed, she added:
“The extension of support for the self-employed is also extremely welcome. It is vital that the self-employed continue to receive similar levels of support to those on PAYE.”