Rishi Sunak has outlined additional government support in an attempt to provide certainty to businesses and workers impacted by coronavirus across the UK. Delivering a speech in parliament, the chancellor announced a package of measures that includes a new Jobs Support Scheme, extending the Self Employment Income Support Scheme and 15% VAT cut for the hospitality and tourism sectors, and help for businesses in repaying government-backed loans.
Sunak said: “The resurgence of the virus, and the measures we need to take in response, pose a threat to our fragile economic recovery. Our approach to the next phase of support must be different to that which came before. The primary goal of our economic policy remains unchanged – to support people’s jobs – but the way we achieve that must evolve.”
The Food and Drink Federation’s chief executive, Ian Wright CBE, responded: “The decisions to introduce the Jobs Support Scheme and to extend the VAT cut for hospitality are welcome but simply do not go far enough. The requirement for staff to be working part-time to be eligible for support will not be enough to sustain hospitality businesses and their food and drink manufacturing suppliers – the squeezed middle – through a difficult autumn and winter where pubs, bars and restaurants will have significantly reduced custom.
“The pandemic has had a far greater impact on some sectors of the economy than others – sectors that would continue to support millions of viable jobs once a vaccine is achieved and social distancing can end. Only by continuing a targeted furlough scheme while the current restrictions remain will we avoid mass long-term unemployment and the decimation of a sector that could otherwise support our economic recovery once the pandemic is over. We urge the UK government to engage with those industries most impacted about what more can be done to support those food and drink businesses most affected by the restrictions.”