Responding to the end of the Government’s furlough scheme, Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce managing director, Martin Hathaway, said:
“The furlough scheme was incredibly beneficial for a great number of firms here in the mid Yorkshire region and undoubtably helped many to stay in business over this challenging period.
“At its peak, 8.86 million jobs were placed on the scheme, with up to 12.1% of the workforce in Yorkshire and the Humber being placed on furlough.
“While business recovery is happening and Yorkshire firms are making progress, we are nowhere near a ‘normal’ economy.
“Recent events, including the shortage of HGV drivers and panic buying of fuel, are testament that there are still major issues caused – or somewhat influenced – by the pandemic that need addressing.
“Employers may currently be coping financially but we have concerns around whether this can and will continue when they are once again solely responsible for paying employees’ wages.
“I urge Government to take these concerns into consideration when determining future support in the upcoming budget.
“Businesses are still in the dark about what potential measures and support will be enforced over the winter months. This is a time that is crucial to many retail and hospitality firms, those who have borne the brunt of the longest and harshest restrictions under previous measures.
“A key element businesses are calling for is a clear, actionable plan for what practical and financial support will be available should restrictions be enforced over the coming months.
“The ability to plan ahead and put a contingency plan in place will be hugely beneficial to firms as we enter the final months of 2021.”
Brian Stahelin, chair of the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors and managing director of Stafflex Limited, commented:
“We are very grateful to the Government for implementing the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme during the worst of the pandemic.
“It certainly helped reduced damage to our business, particularly during the first lockdown when most client requirements disappeared almost overnight.
“Under other circumstances, this would have led to downsizing.
“We are hopeful that the end of the furlough scheme will not bring with it a significant shedding of jobs, even though the country appears to need 1,100,000 people for currently notified vacancies.”
Andy Turner, Managing Partner and Founder of First Choice Recruitment added:
“The UK’s furlough scheme has proved to be a lifeline to the country as a whole.
“However, the scheme has clouded the availability waters and its true impact won’t be seen until it comes to an end this month.
“I believe that before Covid-19 we were effectively at full employment, only behind Germany statistically – and add to this equation the improving performance of the Eastern Bloc, as well as the fallout from Brexit, and it’s no surprise that we have skills shortages in many sectors.
“In recruitment there are never just enough candidates for every job, but in over 30 years in the industry I haven’t seen such an imbalance.
“I hope with the ending of the furlough scheme that more people will become available, but we must continue to manage every situation the best we can.
“We must look at flexible working and re-training, and attack these skill shortages head on – not just for today but for tomorrow.”