Scottish Bakers welcomes extension to UK furlough scheme giving bakers in Scotland a fighting chance
13 May 2020
The UK scheme to pay wages of workers on leave because of coronavirus will be extended to October Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said in a surprise announcement.
Employees will continue to receive 80% of their monthly wages up to £2,500 with no change until the end of July but the government will ask companies to "start sharing" the cost of the scheme from August.
A quarter of the workforce, some 7.5 million people, are now covered by the scheme, which has cost £14bn a month.
The chancellor said that from August, the scheme would continue for all sectors and regions of the country but with greater flexibility to support the transition back to work.
Employers currently using the scheme will then be able to bring furloughed employees back part-time.
The news was welcomed by Scottish Bakers, the industry association that supports bakers throughout Scotland, as the sector has been hard hit despite its vital role in preparing fresh bread and bakery products daily. The sector employs 12,000 in Scotland but Scottish Bakers' members are reporting that 80% of bakery businesses have now furloughed staff with a significant proportion of the sector ceasing to trade altogether. This means almost half of all bakery shops & all bakery cafes are now closed across 300 businesses Scotland wide and despite these businesses being able to access Government support, many bakers fear they will be unable to continue trading or remain viable for much longer.
Chief Executive Alasdair Smith said "Today's announcement by the Chancellor offers a real lifeline to many struggling small and medium sized bakery businesses throughout Scotland. The extension will allow businesses to more carefully plan their escape from lockdown and begin to bring back staff in a more measured way over a longer period of time. This will help them build up their capacity as demand for their products begins to recover with greater freedom of movement for our population.
"In these uncertain times, being able to plan as far forward as the end of October is a welcome extra relief for businesses as well as helping to preserve many jobs in the sector that would otherwise have been at risk.