Meriden MP Saqib Bhatti joins local leaders to welcome extension of coronavirus furlough scheme - The Solihull Observer

Meriden MP Saqib Bhatti joins local leaders to welcome extension of coronavirus furlough scheme

Solihull Editorial 13th May, 2020 Updated: 13th May, 2020   0

A PLEDGE by the chancellor Rishi Sunak to extend the coronavirus pandemic job retention scheme has been commended by local politicians.

A quarter of the British workforce, around 7.5 million workers, are having their wages paid by the government.

Mr Sunak said yesterday (May 12) he will ensure the furlough scheme is maintained until October 2020.

Speaking in parliament, newly elected Meriden MP Saqib Bhatti described the furlough scheme as ‘an unprecedented intervention.”

The former President of the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, who retained Dame Caroline Spelman’s constituency for the Conservatives at the 2019 election, said: “Time and time again the chancellor has stepped up to ensure our businesses have what they need to get through this difficult period and I welcome the measures announced today.

“The Bounce Back Loan Scheme is another example of the unprecedented interventions that the chancellor has made and this has been unequivocally welcomed by organisations such as the Federation of Small Businesses.

“Can my Rt Hon Friend confirm that work is continuing to be done to ensure we are increasing the number of accredited lenders that provide Bounce Bank Loans so we can make sure we are getting funds to those businesses that need it, wherever they may be?”

Replying to Mr Bhatti’s question Rishi Sunak said: “I thank my Hon Friend for his advice as we look to design and improve our lending schemes, I very much value his direct links with businesses and relaying that to me.

“I am pleased to say over a quarter of a million Bounce Back Loans have been approved. 267,000 with over £8 billion of capital that has benefitted small and medium sized companies up and down the UK and on top of that 35,000 Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme Loans of worth over £6 billion have now been put out.

“That is hundreds of thousands of businesses are benefitting from the Loan Schemes that my Hon Friend helped to implement and helped to ensure that worked well and quickly for businesses.”

Welcoming the impact of the furlough extension for the region, West Midlands mayor Andy Street said: “The furloughing scheme’s whole purpose is to protect jobs. To make sure that when the economy comes back, as it will eventually after coronavirus, the people have still got the jobs that they were in when we went into this crisis.

“It is like a hibernation mechanism – there’s huge relief today as it puts off the really difficult decisions that employers would otherwise have had to take in the next few days about who to keep on in their workforce, so that will protect jobs, not just in the short term, but also when the economy comes back.

“The Chancellor said it will not change until July, then in August and onwards it will become more flexible up until October. So what we have now got to do is think across the West Midlands, with businesses, with unions, what really would work for us to help in that recovery.

“We will need to put our case to the Chancellor and that’s exactly what we will do. At least now there is a lot more public money committed but it is the right thing to do to make sure those jobs are protected.”

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