Extend furlough scheme to save over a million from losing their jobs demand the Liberal Democrats.

September 9, 2020 8:19 PM

Cllr Robin Ashby in CouncilNewcastle Liberal Democrats have endorsed their Party's call in Parliament for the Government to extend the furlough scheme "for all those who need it" until the end of June 2021, to avoid mass unemployment and accelerate the UK's economic recovery.

Cllr Robin Ashby, who speaks locally on business matters, warned: "The furlough bridge currently doesn't lead anywhere, with thousands already facing redundancy, and well over a million more at risk by next summer. As well as extending the furlough scheme, the Party is calling on the Government to invest in a Green Recovery Plan to create new jobs for the future.

"The UK is in the grip of the worst economic crisis in a century. Every month thousands of job losses are announced. The retail sector is being massacred. Tens of thousands more redundancies are expected once furlough ends. We need to see bold action from the Government to prevent a catastrophe in the North East, England's poorest region, as well as the rest of the country."

Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Christine Jardine MP urged the Government to extend the furlough scheme until mid-2021 as the best way to protect people's livelihoods and to safeguard the UK's economic recovery. She said:

"It is now clear that the responsible thing to do is to extend the furlough scheme until the middle of 2021 for all those who need it. This will protect households from mass unemployment and boost our economic recovery. Crucially, it gives us time to invest in our future economy through a Green Recovery Plan, so that there are new jobs when furlough eventually ends.

"The Government's decision to bury its head in the sand and abandon furlough next month will have a grave impact on millions of peoples' lives. Liberal Democrats will keep fighting so that no one is left behind."

According to the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, extending the furlough scheme until the middle of next year would avert 1.2 million redundancies and keep the unemployment rate from spiking as high as 10%.
The Institute estimates that increased Income Tax and National Insurance receipts, combined with lower spending on unemployment benefits, would bring the cost of an eight-month extension to £10 billion.
Liberal Democrats have shown that replacing the Chancellor's Job Retention Bonus with an extension of furlough would be close to revenue-neutral, as that the former scheme is budgeted at £9.4 billion.
Other major European countries such as Germany, France and Austria have also announced long-term extensions of their furlough schemes.

Although the UK GDP grew by 6.6% in July 2020, Cllr Ashby said:

"We mustn't let these figures disguise the fact that the economic crisis caused by coronavirus is far from over. As we approach winter, countless people are worrying about their jobs and livelihoods.

"The current increase in COVID-19 cases means the danger of more restrictions and job losses is very real. The Government must announce a long-term extension to the furlough scheme into 2021 to protect jobs and begin to rebuild our economy.

"And to be breaking international law and indulging in brinkmanship with the EU in the current economic climate is irresponsible and shows a recklessness with all our futures. The Prime Minister must immediately row back on plans to breach international law and work for the best possible deal for UK workers and businesses."