Questions raised by the industry following the First Minister’s and Prime Minister’s announcements on the (30/10/20).
JRS/JRR: It looks like the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which was meant to end yesterday and be replaced by the Job Support Scheme today, will now remain in place until December, with the terms of the scheme reverting to the Scheme as it was in August – i.e., employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 and businesses paying for NI and pension contributions. We assume this now applies in Wales. i.e. we will be sticking with the old scheme. Therefore, will businesses be able to continue to Furlough staff in parity with the English lockdown?
Yes. The main issue that WG has had is that UK Government refused to backdate this – or the JSS – to reflect our firebreak in Wales. However, businesses in Wales will be able to access the scheme – and their ability to do so does not mean having to be fully closed according to the regulations, or in general.
ERF Phase 3 Business Development Grant: As we know you have, we have received many dissatisfied and unhappy comments from businesses about missing out on the fund and in particular comments about the process by those who feel disadvantaged by their lack of human resource; rural bandwidth; etc. and the ‘the first come first served’ aspect. We would welcome time put aside to discuss this with Rhydian at our Friday meeting. Plus whilst we realise that due to the high demand, the ERF fund has been suspended while applications received are processed. However, it is obvious that it has been heavily oversubscribed, therefore will there be further funds available beyond this round? We are aware of the issues and businesses that were already registered on the system have been provided with an extension to fully submit all their paperwork.
The Welsh Government will be providing an opportunity for businesses to provide an Expression of Interest in the scheme, should it be re-opened in future and sharing the details of this process asap.
Wales Consequential: Wales receives by far the larger proportion of its business from the rest of the UK (coupled to overseas) and as of the 9th November, while some Wales tourism businesses will be ‘open’ under restrictions, the actual business they will be able to take with England will be virtually nil, does this mean that Wales will not receive a consequential Barnett formula payment and therefore any further Wales business compensation? Just a point really, we think if you cannot answer the above or simply that there is no more money then I think Government needs to come clean and say that is it. It is better than potentially stringing businesses along that they are going to receive further bailouts? Wales receives a consequential of new or additional spend on public services in England or other parts of the UK– unless I’ve misunderstood, it means that we do not get compensated for this kind of decision unless other parts of the UK receive additional public funds as a result of it I’m afraid.
Community Hostility: We would also like to flag up the possible concerns about heightened community hostility against second home owners who may return to Wales to avoid the one month shutdown. Will there be enforcement brought against them (local authorities should have records of who the second home owners are). England will lockdown on Thursday, and we will re-open on Monday so there is an overlap that should prevent individuals from travelling into Wales for this purpose.
The Welsh Government will publish robust Guidance to ensure that this is discouraged and it will be enforced to a point – within the capacity of the current system.