Urgent clarity is needed from the Treasury in relation to the Job Retention Scheme for employers announced in the wake of the Coronavirus crisis. That's according to Assembly Member for Newry and Armagh Justin McNulty who has called on the Minister for Finance and the Executive to engage directly with the Chancellor as businesses can't wait.

Businesses that have closed due to the Coronavirus crisis need clarity about the governments Job Retention Scheme.
Businesses that have closed due to the Coronavirus crisis need clarity about the governments Job Retention Scheme.

Mr McNulty said, ‘The Job Retention Scheme is a vital scheme for both employers and employees alike.  When it was announced, everyone breathed a sigh of relief.  It gave employees an assurance that if they were laid off by their employer on temporary basis they would get 80% of their wages and there would be a job to return to.  Equally for the employer, it meant that should they be forced to close that they had security in the knowledge that HMRC would cover their wage bill until the business re-opened.’

‘However that relief has turned to frustration and anger.  There has been little or no new information since the scheme was announced.  Some businesses have seen their trade fall off a cliff edge and many others have been told to shut their doors. They have been promised the scheme is coming and a portal or system is being set up to distribute funds but nothing has happened.’

‘Businesses who have been forced to close are screaming out for help. They need assurances as soon as possible. They have wages to pay this week and next.  If the scheme isn’t going to be operational for the next few weeks and it’s going to be the end of April before payments are made there will be a lot of businesses, large and small, in a very precarious position.’

‘We need the Executive, the First and deputy First Ministers along with the Minister for Finance to engage directly with the Chancellor and the Prime Minister.  Businesses cannot wait. They must explore all options, including working with Banks to provide urgent finance, underwritten by the Treasury to allow businesses to meet their payroll this week and this month.  Failure to act urgently will see businesses suffer and potentially close down with little prospect of reopening.’

Newry BID have also been lobbying for support schemes for their members. Regular updates will continue to be issued, and members will be informed on proposed government strategies to help businesses through the current Covid-19 crisis.

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