As the UK entered its third lockdown in its efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak swiftly announced further financial measures to support employers and employees.
FCSA Chief Executive Phil Pluck shares his views on the announcement and why it has been necessary to write on behalf of FCSA members to urge the Chancellor to implement additional measures to protect contingent workers and the businesses that support them during the new lockdown:
I really do understand the immense challenges that the government is having to deal with during this pandemic, but the announcement this week by the Chancellor was disappointing, to say the least, for our sector.
While I support the hard-hit retail and leisure sectors’ targeted financial assistance entirely, I do question whether this will be enough to ensure this crucial industry’s survival. But what about all of the other sectors in our economy?
If you look closely at the details of what the Chancellor has announced, there is nothing new in reality. Small businesses and the self-employed have once again been forgotten, and the furlough scheme as it stands is now unaffordable for many companies and will continue to be so.
It is the latter that I am most concerned about the FCSA members and their contingent workforce at this time; so much so, I have written on behalf of our members to the Chancellor to request swift and serious consideration on implementing a temporary furlough scheme that will make it more financially viable for our member firms to offer the furlough scheme to their contingent workforce.
Removing the financial National Insurance and pension cost burdens within the current scheme would allow them to support employees that qualify for furlough during this difficult time.
While this would still impose a cost on our member companies, it would allow them to continue to support employees, remain financially viable, and be better prepared to support the UK economy as it emerges out of the pandemic.
This approach’s benefits will be for HM Government to avoid social support costs while supporting the longer-term collection of substantial revenue on behalf of HMRC.
Our members have shown considerable resilience throughout the pandemic but surviving the new? few months during this lockdown period and not forgetting post-Brexit and the impending IR35 roll-out will be one of the biggest tests yet.
We very much hope that the Chancellor recognises the vital role that the contingent workforce sector has in the UK economy, contributing £37.8 billion, and takes swift and decisive action on the temporary furlough scheme we have proposed to protect a workforce and those businesses that support them at this critical time.