There is no doubt that the Chancellor Rishi Sunak`s Winter Economy Plan will provide welcome relief to many businesses, however it may not prove enough for those businesses worst affected by the pandemic.
Businesses Desperate For More Help
The Jobs Retention Scheme, or furlough scheme as it is most widely known, has been an absolutely fantastic scheme which has kept so many employees in work during lockdown, but as this draws to a close this month businesses are desperate for more help as the pandemic comes back hard in a second wave.
The Winter Economy Plan is being introduced along with other measures to help businesses and the economy including extending Bounce-Back loans and keeping VAT at 5% for the hospitality sector.
Is This A Sticking Plaster To Cover A Wound
Whether all this turns out to be a sticking plaster to cover a wound we will wait and see. As an article in the Belfast Newsletter points out:
“While the package represented a bold offer from the Chancellor, we must remain realistic. The hard truth is that it will not save every job – not in Northern Ireland, nor elsewhere. This is not a like-for-like replacement for furlough and some jobs will undoubtedly fall through the cracks. As redundancies start to rise, they must be matched with a significant investment in upskilling and retraining to stave off the risk of long-term joblessness. Northern Ireland knows only too well how scarring that can be, with memories of double-digit unemployment still in the minds of anyone who lived through the 1980s.
“There is also an awareness that the measures won’t protect every sector. Some extremely viable businesses will remain under extreme pressure until demand returns to something like normal. The hospitality sector has been particularly – and rightly – vocal in recent days. Hospitality in Northern Ireland is second to none. From bustling bars and cafés to award winning restaurants, we have a fantastic offering that is second to none. But if we want them to weather this storm and be there to offer a welcome pint or hot meal to both locals and tourists when the pandemic is over, we need to act now.
“Similarly, with the global aircraft fleet mostly grounded by the pandemic and day-to-day uncertainty over international travel restrictions, the aerospace industry has been hit hard. With a supply chain that stretches across the region, aerospace is a jewel in the crown of Northern Ireland’s manufacturing sector. Decades of honed experience and expertise have grown the sector to around 10,000 jobs. Unfortunately, the impact of the pandemic has been swift and severe – with 2,000 redundancies and around 3,000 sector workers put on furlough.
“As we seek to tackle the challenges of the coming weeks and months head-on, we recognise there is no silver bullet that will secure our recovery. Instead we have a series of policy levers, each with the capacity to move us forward an important step.”
Let`s Get Back To Something Approaching Normality!
Let us hope Covid-19 can be at least restrained over the coming months so that we can get back to something approaching normality and businesses in Northern Ireland can come out of the bunkers and thrive once more.