Businesses across Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield need more support to protect jobs and ensure the three in ten who have been furloughed here have jobs to return to.

That’s the view of the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, who represents firms of all sizes from across the region. It says we are at a crucial time in the recovery effort from the coronavirus crisis.

From next week, employers will have to start contributing to the cost of having employees furloughed with the level of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme grant reducing each month until the end of October.

Since the scheme began, 134,000 people in the Mid Yorkshire region have been furloughed by businesses out of a potential eligible workforce of 437,400:

  • In Kirklees – 58,900 people have been furloughed (32% of the eligible workforce)
  • In Calderdale – 27,400 have been furloughed (30% of the eligible workforce)
  • In Wakefield – 47,700 have been furloughed (29% of the eligible workforce)

Now, the Chamber are calling for a series of measures to ensure many of those people still have jobs once the scheme ends.

They want to see:

  • an increase in the threshold for employer National Insurance Contributions from £8,788 to £12,500, which could save businesses around £500 per job.
  • an 18-month expansion of the Annual Investment Allowance from £4,000 to £20,000
  • More support for businesses through local authorities with a package of measures to support businesses to recover and grow across Kirklees, Wakefield and Calderdale.

Councils have distributed grant payments of £216 million to over 19,000 businesses across the Mid Yorkshire area since the start of the pandemic.

The Small Business Grants Fund scheme and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Grants Fund has seen funds from government given to eligible firms in a one-off payment:

  • In Kirklees – £93.7 million has been distributed to 8,347 businesses
  • In Calderdale – £57.6 million has been distributed to 5,140 businesses
  • In Wakefield – £64.7 million has been distributed to 5,563 businesses

Martin Hathaway, managing director of the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, says extending this sort of support will be vital if businesses are able to survive and ensure workers can return to their jobs:

“It has been an incredibly hard few months for us all, and businesses across Mid Yorkshire have worked hard to ensure they support their employees through the coronavirus crisis.

“We are now reaching perhaps the most crucial and difficult time. Government support is coming to an end, starting with the phasing out of the furlough scheme from 1 August, and the latest numbers show just how important that has been at keeping people employed.

“Businesses want to bounce back, but they need to feel government and local authorities are on their side to support them in achieving that.

“Making changes to National Insurance Contributions and the Annual Investment Allowance would help, and we need our councils – who have been working incredibly hard during the pandemic – to do all they can to support growth, help businesses keep people in jobs and protect the local economy.