NI: Law centre warns successor to furlough scheme won’t prevent mass redundancies

NI: Law centre warns successor to furlough scheme won't prevent mass redundancies

New employment supports set to be introduced by the UK government following the end of the furlough scheme are not sufficient to avoid mass redundancies and significant hardship, Law Centre NI has said.

The new Job Support Scheme will run for six months from 1 November 2020, but will only support so-called “viable jobs”, where employees are working at least a third of their usual hours.

The level of grant will be calculated based on employee’s usual salary, capped at £697.92 per month.

Jack Gibson, policy officer at Law Centre NI, said the scheme does not “go far enough to avoid an increase in the already unprecedented levels of redundancy we are seeing”.

Mr Gibson said: “Since the UK Government began cutting back the level of support offered under the furlough scheme in July, the number of calls relating to redundancy on our advice lines have more than doubled.

“The latest statistics from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency also show a steep rise in the number of redundancies confirmed in this period.

“It seems clear that the rate of redundancies is closely linked to the level of support offered. Since the new Job Support Scheme offers a much lower level of support to employers than is currently in place, we believe redundancy rates will rise sharply as a result.

“We are also concerned that the level of support offered to the self-employed under the extended Income Support Scheme is simply too low for many. The result of these policies is that many more people – employees and the self-employed – will suffer significant hardship and will be forced into the benefits system this winter.”

He added: “We do not believe this outcome is inevitable. We urge the UK Government and the Northern Ireland Executive alike to consider the long-term damage this will do to our economy and to people’s lives and to explore all options to avert it.”

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