Some workers in Wales affected by the lockdown over coronavirus (Covid-19) are still waiting for their ‘furlough’ payments even though the system went live a week ago, The Eye can disclose.
It is unclear whether the delay is at the UK Government distribution end, or with employers not immediately passing on the money.
One employee told The Eye: “It is very hard for me. I have bills and a mortgage to pay”.
Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, had claimed that firms would receive grants within six days to pay staff who had been furloughed, as the UK Government opened its coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
The disturbing news flies in the face of advice from the Wales TUC which stated: “The UK Government needs to prioritise boosting benefit payments and removing the delays in access”.
The TUC General Secretary Shavanah Taj has called for more support for NHS and other key workers, as well as for testing and pastoral care.
The news also appears to place in an interesting light comments from the Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart who said: “We will do whatever it takes to provide businesses in Wales with the support they need to get through this exceptionally difficult time”.
But it hasn’t simply been UK Government ministers and union officials who have proclaimed the importance of the furlough scheme.
Adam Marshall, Director of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said at the announcement: “Businesses… can now begin to access the money needed to pay their staff”.
He added: “Any delay would exacerbate the cash crisis many companies are facing and could threaten jobs and businesses”.
Jonathan Geldart, Director of the Institute of Directors (IoD) declared: “This scheme is crucial to protecting jobs”.
Rain Newton-Smith, Chief Economist of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) proclaimed: “The Chancellor has… shown a willingness to do whatever it takes and act at speed during unprecedented times”.
The Resolution Foundation (RF) estimated that eight million workers could be furloughed at the end of this month and into May.
It found that those working in low-paid sectors – such as hospitality or retail – are worst-affected, with almost half of the workforce expected to be put on paid leave.
Daniel Tomlinson, economist at the Resolution Foundation, stated: “The government’s welcome Job Retention Scheme is what stands between Britain experiencing high unemployment over the coming months, and catastrophic depression-era levels of long-term joblessness”.
Mr Sunak had said last week when the scheme was opened to applications: “We promised support would be available by the end of April – today, we deliver our promise”‘, and the Treasury claimed that the system could process up to 450,000 applications an hour.
Meanwhile the cost has been controversial.
The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) estimated a price tag of £42 billion, but that was before the UK Government extended the scheme by a month.
That sum may be big, but if the payments are late it is worthless…
Tomorrow – Browned off part two and we read an alternative press release to the mainstream media in Wales, congratulating them for not reporting the fact a tanning business in Cardiff is run by a conman who had his legs broken when a drug deal soured.
Our Editor Phil Parry’s memories of his extraordinary 36-year award-winning career in journalism as he was gripped by the incurable disabling condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major new book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order the book now!
If you need something to keep the kids entertained during these uncertain times (in Welsh) try Ffwlbart Ffred about the amusing stories of Ffred and his pet.