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Lancashire considers local hospitality furlough scheme

16 October 2020 by
Lancashire considers local hospitality furlough scheme

Local leaders in Lancashire are considering a regional furlough scheme to top-up the pay of hospitality workers in businesses forced to close.

Geoff Driver of Lancashire County Council said he knew many bar staff were ‘going to struggle' to survive on only two-thirds of their wages under the government Job Support Scheme.

Wet-led pubs and bars in the region will have to close when Lancashire moves in to Tier 3, the highest level coronavirus restrictions, on Saturday.

In a press conference on Friday (19 October), Driver said: "We intend as best we can to help everyone who's affected by these restrictions, both in the businesses themselves and the people who work there. We'll work really hard to make sure we can do our best to mitigate the impact.

"We all recognise that in many if not most of bars the staff are on minimum wage and they're going to struggle with receiving two-thirds of that, so we're going to do our best to help them out."

Lancashire has secured a £42m government support package, though councillors were pushing for around £58m . Driver said council leaders would decide how funds were allocated and confirmed it could be used to top-up furlough pay.

"I'd be very surprised if there isn't some element of that in the final determination," he said.

The original furlough scheme during the first national lockdown paid 80% of wages.

Lancashire leaders said they had spent a week negotiating a support package with the government, with some likening the process to being "bullied and blackmailed".

"The deal isn't as good as we wanted it to be, but it became clear it was as good as we were going to get," said Blackpool councillor Lynn Williams. "Now it's important to move on and work together to implement the measures, protect the vulnerable and ensure we get money to businesses that need it most."

There is a growing anger over the reduced support now available for areas forced into local lockdowns, with the mayors of Greater Manchester, North Tyne and Liverpool calling on the government to provide an 80% furlough scheme.

The Liverpool city region, which entered Tier 3 on Wednesday, has launched its own £40m fund for hospitality and leisure businesses to top-up staff pay.

Photo: Shutterstock

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