A TYRONE debt advisor has welcomed the extension of the furlough scheme for another five months, but warned that many workers could still face losing their jobs next Spring without further government support.
Michael Roddy, manager of Omagh Independent Advice Centre, was speaking out after the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, confirmed that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) would now run until the end of March, with employees receiving 80 per-cent of their current salary for hours not worked.
The Chancellor also announced that support for millions more workers through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) would be increased, with the third grant covering November to January calculated at 80 per-cent of average trading profits, up to a maximum of £7,500.
Since it was brought in back in March, the CJRS – more commonly known as the furlough scheme – has helped to safeguard thousands of jobs across Tyrone amid the devastating economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Announcing the five-month extension, the Chancellor said, “Extending furlough and increasing our support for the self-employed will protect millions of jobs and give people and businesses the certainty they need over what will be a difficult winter.”
Giving a warm welcome to the news, Mr Roddy said, “It’s going to make a big difference in terms of people’s finances and livelihoods going forward, particularly for the Christmas period.
“There were employers out there who were probably preparing to pull down the shutters come the end of the old furlough scheme, but I hope that this does change their mind and they continue on with business and see how things materialise in the New Year.”
Talking about the difference the furlough scheme has made during the pandemic, the debt advisor said, “People were talking about cliff edges when we were getting close to the end of October. Without some sort of financial help from the government, I just can’t really describe how things might have been.
“It would have been the perfect storm in terms of chaos and major disruption for people’s livelihoods.
“The extension of the scheme is a great thing for those who are on it and are going to get some respite. From a selfish point of view, it’s going to take a lot of pressure off us, albeit it’s just kicking the can further down the road.
“It’s going to end sometime, but it’ll give us a wee bit of breathing space here to cope with the issues that we are dealing with on a day-to-day basis.”
While Mr Roddy said he liked to think optimistically that by next Spring the economy would be up-and-running to some extent, he warned, “I still think that a lot of people are going to lose their jobs come the end of March.”