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One in four UK firms plan to fire staff if furlough ends soon - BCC


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One in four UK firms plan to fire staff if furlough ends soon - BCC

By David Milliken

 

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FILE PHOTO: A person jogs, with financial district in the background, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in London, Britain, January 5, 2021. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo

 

LONDON (Reuters) - A quarter of British businesses expect to fire staff if finance minister Rishi Sunak does not extend a job furlough programme that is due to expire at the end of April, the British Chambers of Commerce said on Thursday.

 

Sunak is due to deliver his annual budget on March 3 and has promised to provide more support for jobs hit by the coronavirus pandemic. But he is also mindful that COVID-related spending has already pushed Britain’s budget deficit to its highest since World War Two.

 

Britain entered a third national lockdown last month, which forced schools and most businesses to close their doors to the public, although staff can continue to work on site if there is no good alternative.

 

Official data released on Thursday showed 20% of private-sector employees were currently furloughed as of Feb. 11, up from 18% two weeks earlier, though below the 30% who were on leave during the first lockdown.

 

The furlough programme cost 46 billion pounds ($64 billion) up to mid-December - the government’s most expensive single economic support measure.

 

While new coronavirus infections have fallen by more than three quarters since a peak at the turn of the year, the government remains concerned about the risk posed by new variants of the disease and has not yet eased lockdown rules.

 

Most staff worked entirely from home last week, in line with government guidance to avoid workplaces where possible.

 

The BCC said 61% of firms had suffered a fall in sales since October, based on a survey of 1,115 of its members carried out between Jan. 18 and Jan. 31, and ONS data shows spending on credit and debit cards is about 28% lower than a year ago.

 

Cashflow was a major worry for businesses, the BCC said. Just under a quarter of businesses said that they only had enough money to keep operating for a further three months.

 

Some 25% of businesses said they would need to make staff redundant if the furlough programme and loan support is not extended, and 25% also said they would cut staff hours in that situation.

 

“It is vital that the UK government keeps financial support going until firms can reopen and rebuild,” BCC Director General Adam Marshall said. “Pulling the plug now would be a huge mistake, and would be akin to writing off the billions already spent helping firms to survive.”

 

The Resolution Foundation think tank, in a report being launched on Thursday, said nearly 2 million British people had either been unemployed or fully on furlough for at least six months.

 

The report said Sunak should begin to phase the programme out at the budget and take a more sector-specific approach, priotising support for sectors such as hospitality and leisure which remain hard hit by the lockdown.

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2021-02-18
 
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We can consider ourselves lucky we had a guy like Johnson at the helm when this pandemic swept into the country. Otherwise we could have found ourselves in serious trouble.

Oh no, wait. Thats not what happened is it.

Even the much maligned Thai government has handled covid far better.

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I am a UK tax payer

 

and I have spoken to numerous lazy #### that have somehow got stranded in Thailand lol 

 

My message to them - get on a plane the holiday is over 

 

If the UK Gov actually investigated those claiming furlough who were not in the UK (very easily checked) there would a lot of spongers caught out and a lot of money that needed to be paid back 

 

Furlough fraud is being investigated - it will catch you up

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7 hours ago, smedly said:

I am a UK tax payer

 

and I have spoken to numerous lazy #### that have somehow got stranded in Thailand lol 

 

My message to them - get on a plane the holiday is over 

 

If the UK Gov actually investigated those claiming furlough who were not in the UK (very easily checked) there would a lot of spongers caught out and a lot of money that needed to be paid back 

 

Furlough fraud is being investigated - it will catch you up

 

Given that the government has encouraged people to 'work from home' where possible throughout this pandemic, what difference does it make whether they base themselves in Bangkok or Brixton, so long as they can do their job to their employer's satisfaction? It's not like there's much opportunity to spend money locally in the UK at the present time, so not a great effect on the local economy.

 

I'm also a UK taxpayer. I'm not receiving furlough, but I would have no qualms about claiming it while I'm here in Bangkok if I was eligible to do so.

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12 hours ago, RayC said:

 

Given that the government has encouraged people to 'work from home' where possible throughout this pandemic, what difference does it make whether they base themselves in Bangkok or Brixton, so long as they can do their job to their employer's satisfaction? It's not like there's much opportunity to spend money locally in the UK at the present time, so not a great effect on the local economy.

 

I'm also a UK taxpayer. I'm not receiving furlough, but I would have no qualms about claiming it while I'm here in Bangkok if I was eligible to do so.

Surely fraudulent claims for benefits is a bad thing no?

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16 hours ago, Rookiescot said:

Surely fraudulent claims for benefits is a bad thing no?

 

I totally agree, however, if the authorities suspect that a person is making a fraudulent claim they can withhold payment irrespective of where they are based.

 

There's a whole load of questions regarding work permits, tax, etc. for those claiming furlough while based overseas but that's another matter.

 

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If aanyone is claiming furlough and is living it up in Thailand, it is only because their employers are a party to it. There were also claims last year that staff were being 'furloughed' and then told to work by their employers - or get made redundant. How much are employers ripping off the government? Far more than individuals i suspect.

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