HELEN Mary Jones MS, Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Economy Minister, has renewed calls for the furlough scheme to be extended for sectors that have – as yet – been unable to open, or unable to open profitably.

A recent survey of 801 Welsh tourism business owners revealed that 22% of businesses have not yet been able to open (as at 6 August 2020), with 47% of Welsh tourist attractions remaining shut. There is no news yet on when theatres, concert halls and other music venues may be able to open in Wales.

With the UK Government Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme coming to an end on 31 October 2020, businesses that remain shut after this date will have a “heart-wrenching, yet inevitable decision to make” says Helen Mary Jones MS.

Ms Jones says that with billions paid out in furlough during the pandemic, for businesses just to let staff go from 1 November, will have wasted millions of pounds.

Plaid Cymru Shadow Economy Minister, Helen Mary Jones MS, said:

“It is clear that some sectors of the economy are going to take much longer to recover than others. In Wales, some parts of hospitality and the majority of the Arts industry remains closed to income streams.

“When the furlough scheme comes to an abrupt end in October, there will be one devastating outcome: For the organisations that have retained staff on furlough, but have no income streams, they will have no option but to let these staff go. It will be a heart-wrenching, yet inevitable decision to make.

“Westminster has already spent billions on enabling businesses to retain staff. To let them go at the end of the scheme will have wasted millions of pounds.

“We have already seen adaptations to the scheme, to enable low paid workers to receive a small income, if they are forced to isolate. As local lockdowns seem to be a likelihood in our battle against this virus, I would like to see this expanded to all workers who are forced to isolate but who cannot work from home. Critically, the amount needs to be sufficient so that workers are not placed in an impossible position of feeling like their only option is to go to work, when unwell or isolating in case they have been infected. £13 a day is a welcome start, but this needs to be more.

“The Welsh Government must take some responsibility for this as well. If Westminster won’t extend furlough scheme to sectors most affected, then the Welsh Government needs to look at what support they might be able to provide.”

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