Camden and Haringey business associations and MPs react to coronavirus jobs scheme

Traders representatives (top) have welcomed the scheme but MPs (bottom) fear it fails to address ind

Traders representatives (top) have welcomed the scheme but MPs (bottom) fear it fails to address industries such as hospitality. Pictures: Polly Hancock/Catherine West MP/Tulip Siddiq MP - Credit: Archant

Business associations in Hampstead, Crouch End and Muswell Hill have welcomed the government’s coronavirus jobs scheme - but local MPs are warning it is “too little too late”.

On Thursday the chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the Job Support Scheme which will top up the wages of workers forced to cut their hours due to the pandemic.

Targeted at businesses with up to 250 employees, it replaces the furlough scheme which finishes at the end of October.

Business representatives from Camden and Haringey said the scheme will support trade through an “uncertain” period, but two of the boroughs’ MPs warned the scheme fails to help employees in hard-hit industries such as hospitality and the arts.

Mel Pretorius, from Muswell Hill’s traders assocation, called the programme “reassuring”. She told the Ham&High: “This will hopefully help businesses and employees ride out the uncertainty of the winter months and whatever restrictions may come into force.

“It’s a fine balancing act trying to find a job support scheme that is fair and this way the employer, employee and government share the burden.”

Lewis Freeman, Crouch End Traders Association’s chair, said the scheme was a particular boost for businesses which have reopened but are operating on reduced revenues.

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The boss of Dunn’s Bakery said traders were hoping the Christmas period would bring sales back up and enable businesses to increase staff hours.

Under the terms of the new scheme, the government will top up the wages of people working at least a third of their normal hours, and it will cost the Treasury an estimated £300m a month for every million workers who take it up.

Marcos Gold, the Hampstead Village BID manager, said he welcomed the policy and that his organisation would continue to support local businesses through the pandemic.

Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq called the scheme a “relief” but warned: “It has sadly come too late for many who have already lost jobs, and there was nothing in the Chancellor’s statement to help them or the self-employed workers who have been consistently excluded from the Government’s support packages.

“I am concerned that this new scheme will not help many employees in sectors that have been worst hit and will continue to face restrictions like the hospitality, arts and culture.”

Hornsey and Wood Green MP Catherine West said: “Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic I have been contacted by people in Hornsey & Wood Green who have not had the support which they need, and the Chancellor’s statement hasn’t changed this.

“Three million people, including many self-employed, have been excluded from support, and I’ll continue pushing for the support my constituents need to weather this storm.”