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Chancellor unveils new measures to protect jobs

by Martin Fullard

Chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak has announced a raft of support measures which he says aims to protect job and keep businesses solvent.

Addressing the House of Commons, 8 July, the chancellor unveiled a Jobs Retention Bonus, giving £1,000 to businesses who bring back employees from furlough, as well as a temporary VAT cut for hospitality and tourism businesses, down from 20% to 5%.

Another measure which may appeal to events businesses is a “kickstart scheme”, which aims to get unemployed 16 to 24-year-old into work as well as new payments for businesses hiring apprentices.

However, the chancellor said he makes “no apology” for winding down the Government’s furlough scheme for subsidising worker wages. Unless a restart date for the events industry is announced soon, this will come as a worry for events businesses, despite the new Job Retention Bonus.

Clive Wratten, CEO of the Business Travel Association (BTA), said that the announcement gives a “limited kickstart” to the wider travel industry. “We welcome the support for returning employees to work and the VAT reduction for UK accommodation,” he said.
Joss Croft, the CEO of travel trade association UKinbound said the chancellor’s economic recovery plan recognises the value of hospitality and tourism, and cutting VAT from 20% to 5% and the Eat Out to Help Out scheme will deliver “immediate positive impacts for businesses and consumers.”

Croft was cautiously optimistic about the Job Retention Bonus scheme but noted still not all businesses would survive. He said: “It [Job Retention Bonus] will also help tourism and hospitality businesses, but only those that survive into next year.

“These measures will not help the many businesses involved in inbound tourism who drive regional economies and jobs, and who are on the brink; longer-term support will still be required for these businesses, which have been hit even harder than domestic and outbound.”

However, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) responded to the chancellor’s statement by pointing to the lack of any mention of the self-employed.

Although IPSE has welcomed the measures to boost the economy, including the employer bonus at the end of the furlough scheme, it has urged the Government to introduce a “tapered end” to the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) to ensure freelancers do not face a “cliff-edge” in August.

Andy Chamberlain, director of policy at IPSE expressed his concern. He said: “We urge the chancellor to introduce a tapered end to SEISS to address the clear imbalance between employees and the self-employed.

“While considering measures to kickstart the economy, we also call on the chancellor to adopt policies that will back those groups, like limited companies and the newly self-employed, who missed out on support during lockdown.”

He added: “Freelancers will be vital in getting the UK back to business, but if they are to play their part, they must get a fair deal and the backing they need from the Government.”

An announcement about the future of the events industry is expected this week.

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