We have joined other national business networks to call on the Government to adopt a more nuanced approach to protect vulnerable workers from the effects of the current crisis.
The Chancellor announced last week that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (aka furlough scheme) would be extended to October, but confirmed that employers may be asked to make more of a contribution from August.
A blanket approach to the withdrawal of this support could trigger widespread job losses for firms with higher numbers of vulnerable staff, many of whom are among the 2.5 million people who have been told by the Government to shield from Coronavirus. As businesses move towards resuming operations, these businesses will struggle to return to full capacity as their staff will need to maintain shielding to safeguard their own health.
Businesses which specialise in employing vulnerable workers, such as supported businesses, social enterprises and social firms, are at potential risk of closure unless there is flexibility in the furlough scheme to avoid the risk of redundancies for the most vulnerable people in society. If these specialised businesses are lost, their employees and thousands of future employees will struggle to re-enter employment, at a considerable long-term cost to the taxpayer.
We have written a joint letter to the Chancellor, asking the Government to consider implementing a tapering of arrangements to ensure that employment is protected wherever possible for vulnerable workers.
Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC said:
“It has become clear that vulnerable people have been the most affected by Covid-19. We need the Chancellor to make a more nuanced approach to the end of the furlough scheme, in order to protect the most vulnerable in society from the ravages of this disease and further marginalisation and disadvantage.
“We were pleased to see the Guardian cover this story and encourage others to share this widely to put pressure on the Government to provide additional support for the most vulnerable workers.”
“We are doing our best to get through this unprecedented crisis and government must be sensitive to the fact that not every business or employee is the same. What we don’t want to see is our most vulnerable workers being put out of work because they were overlooked.
Small changes to the Job Retention Scheme will help businesses like mine get through to the other side so that we can keep disabled people in work with all the benefits to health, wellbeing and society that come from that.”