Welsh Labour Finance Minister Rebecca Evans has today called on employers to use extra Welsh Government funding to protect workers at risk of falling through a gap in UK government wage support schemes.
The Minister has backed these calls with an extra £10m package to help protect workers not eligible for the UK Government’s job retention scheme and wider support for those in need of urgent financial help.
The Welsh Government has pressed the UK Chancellor to urgently guarantee wage support for workers affected by business closure who risk falling through the gaps between the Job Retention Scheme and the new Job Support Scheme and has put forward a number of different ways of doing so, but so far without receiving a positive response.
With the all-Wales firebreak starting this evening, the Welsh Government is now stepping in to increase by £5m the £20 million discretionary fund provided to local authorities to support businesses retain those workers at risk of falling through the gaps in support. This fund is on top of the £300m package of grants announced last week.
In addition, an extra £5m will also be provided to the Discretionary Assistance Fund which provides grants to people in need of urgent help during the crisis, including those waiting for benefit payments and those in employment who are facing hardship.
Finance Minister Rebecca Evans said:
“Only the UK Government can alter these wage support schemes but they have refused to make changes which would have protected workers at risk of falling through the gaps.
While UK Ministers fail to act, I am today adding a further £5m to our discretionary businesses support grants and call on employers to use this funding to retain workers not eligible for the Job Retention Scheme between 23-31 October.
The Wales only Economic Resilience Fund has already helped to secure over 100,000 jobs during this crisis by providing businesses with the most generous support package anywhere in the UK.”
The Minister added:
“We cannot protect every job and every business hit by this global pandemic, but we are taking every action we can to support people in need of urgent financial help which is why a further £5m will be dedicated to support our Discretionary Assistance fund.”