Credit: GG Photographer Lisa Paul (@lisapaulcreativespace)

Local MSP Sandra White calls for rethink on replacing furlough scheme

By Roshika Perera

Her statement comes as businesses warn of job losses coming this Christmas.

Sandra White, Scottish National party MSP for Glasgow Kelvin, has released a statement on her official website criticising the UK government on its decision to withdraw the furlough scheme on 31 October. Her criticism comes amid announcements from companies in Glasgow Kelvin warning of possible redundancies and cuts to staff hours once the scheme is withdrawn. 

A survey from Censuswide and Virgin Money reveals that 42% of small to medium-sized businesses are expecting to have a smaller workforce in December compared to September, and 25% fear they may not survive a second wave of Covid-19. The bakery chain Greggs has become the latest in a list of companies to warn of cuts to employee hours and jobs, announcing that: “With the Job Retention Scheme planned to end in October we are taking steps to ensure that our employment costs reflect the estimated level of demand from November onwards.” With six stores in Kelvin, White worries that its employees ‘‘will now be questioning their futures’’.

White has accused the UK government of “abandoning business and pushing employers into more drastic action than is perhaps necessary’’. She urges the government to ‘‘perform an urgent U-turn, reinstate a full job protection scheme, and devolve financial powers to the Scottish parliament so we can protect our economy’’. 

In May, Rishi Sunak, chancellor of the exchequer, unveiled a plan to gradually roll back the furlough scheme and replace it with the job support scheme commencing on 1 November, which subsidises employers for retaining staff by reducing their hours instead of making them redundant. However, the chancellor has been clear that the furlough scheme cannot be sustained, telling BBC Radio Scotland in August: “It’s wrong to keep people trapped in a situation and pretend that there is always a job that they can go back to.” Likewise, Kate Forbes, Scotland’s finance secretary, calls for greater devolution of financial powers have been rejected by Westminster, with Steve Barclay, chief secretary to the treasury, stating the UK-wide support package is ‘‘better able to weather the storm of the Covid crisis’’.

White ended her statement by warning: ‘‘If the Tories won’t act now to save thousands of Scottish jobs they will demonstrate beyond doubt that the only way to protect Scotland’s interests is to become an independent country.” This comment echoes a popular sentiment reflected in the latest YouGov poll which shows support for independence leading at 53%. 


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