Responding to the announcements from the Chancellor of the Exchequer regarding ending the Furlough Scheme and the introduction of alternative mechanisms, Stirling SNP MP for Stirling Alyn Smith said:
“I welcome some of what has been announced by the Chancellor, which appears in line with what the SNP have been calling for and seems to resemble what some of our European neighbours have already introduced. However, we in the SNP have called repeatedly for the Furlough Scheme to be extended, it is disappointing that this is not to be the case under these proposals.
“This is a big reversal in what the Chancellor said at the beginning of this crisis which is that no one would be left behind – he’s now saying that he can’t save every business or job.
“Having spoken to business owners and managers in the Stirling area, I know how much uncertainty the time taken to confirm these measures has caused almost every sector of our economy.
“What the announcements today did not cover is the large number of people who have been excluded or forgotten in income and business support to date. Many people in my constituency have been unfairly left behind and as a result have faced real financial hardship during this crisis through no fault of their own.
“It remains the case that many businesses, whilst now open, are not operating to their full pre-covid capacity, and therefore are not yet in a position to be able to afford to pay their full workforce. I am concerned that the requirement for businesses to bring in workers and pay for at least third of their hours might still be too much strain on some companies, still putting jobs at risk.
“Similarly, I cautiously welcome the additional time and flexibility offered to businesses who’ve taken out government-guaranteed loans during this crisis, but my inbox has been inundated over the past few months with local businesses who’ve been unable to get a loan from their own bank, despite the Chancellor’s assurances. This is another area that needs to be worked on by government in order to ensure that every business that needs to take out a loan to protect themselves can do so. The government should seriously consider turning these loans into grants, at such a crucial time for the economy generally, the last thing businesses want to do is to take on debt.
“As for the continued lower rate of VAT for hospitality and tourism businesses, I welcome this, however we in the SNP will continue to campaign for this lower rate to be made permanent. This is a fragile time for this sector in particular, which is a major employer in the Stirling area. These businesses need the assurances of a longer term strategy than the six months being offered today. I’ll continue to call on the Chancellor to do the right thing and finally offer long term assurances to businesses in my constituency.”