Food and Drink Federation calls for greater sector jobs support amid ongoing pandemic

The UK’s Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has warned that further government measures to support key sector businesses will be required in order to survive the economic effects of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, reports Neill Barston

With the British furlough employment scheme closing at the end of next month, concerns had been raised that an alternative to ensure the millions of jobs – including many within manufacturing within confectionery, bakery and snacks production segments, that had been safeguarded under the programme, may potentially be lost as the scheme ended.

However, the government has now proposed a German-style wage subsidy plan, in which eligible workers (who have to be employed for at least a third of their normal hours), but will be guaranteed a total of 77% of their regular pay through contributions from the employer (55%), and 22% being met by the government to help prevent further job losses.

Responding on the move, FDF’s Chief Executive, Ian Wright CBE, urged a greater level of engagement to back those individuals and businesses that had been hit especially hard by the pandemic.

He said: “The decision to introduce the Jobs Support Scheme and to extend the VAT cut for hospitality are welcome from the government but simply do not go far enough. The requirement for staff to be working part-time to be eligible for support will not be enough to sustain hospitality businesses and their food and drink manufacturing suppliers – the squeezed middle – through a difficult autumn and winter where pubs, bars, and restaurants will have significantly reduced custom.

“The pandemic has had a far greater impact on some sectors of the economy than others – sectors that would continue to support millions of viable jobs once a vaccine is achieved and social distancing can end.

“Only by continuing a targeted furlough scheme while the current restrictions remain will we avoid mass long-term unemployment and the decimation of a sector that could otherwise support our economic recovery once the pandemic is over. We urge the UK Government to engage with those industries most impacted about what more can be done to support those food and drink businesses most affected by the restrictions.”

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