McKenna calls for extended furlough


Frank McKenna, chief executive of business lobby group Downtown in Business, says the government must do more to support businesses affected by the ongoing lockdown.

He cites the 700,000 jobs lost so far as unacceptable and says the problem is only set to get worse. As an example, there has been a spike in cancellations among hotel groups and no-shows for restaurant bookings while the 'rule of six' remains unclear to a significant portion of the public.

Frank has now backed the calls by MP Andy Burnham to extend the furlough scheme, which is scheduled to end on October 31, to businesses who remain affected by the government's guidelines.

“My preference is for a wholesale review of how we are managing the Covid-19 crisis. The whole debate is being looked at through the narrow lense of coronavirus, without economic or other health and wellbeing implications being considered," said Frank.

"Nonetheless, if draconian local lockdowns are to continue, then Andy Burnham’s call for furlough payments to be made to those companies affected is not only reasonable, but essential, if even greater numbers of job losses are to be avoided."

In addition, supply chains to the hospitality sector are anticipating a swathe of redundancies in the Autumn. Food suppliers, PR and marketing agencies , office suppliers and professional services firms have confirmed to me that they are now in redundancy consultations with staff – and this is only the tip of the iceberg if we don’t get a better grip of the crisis immediately."

If draconian local lockdowns are to continue furlough payments are essential

Frank added: "The government must change course and either relax the rules around infection rates and lockdowns or come up with a scheme that offers businesses and their workforces the financial support they need."

The government is expected to announce tighter lockdown restrictions for most of Lancashire later today.

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