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BMPA urges changes to the UK Job Retention Scheme to keep meat processors at work

17 April 2020

If the UK chancellor modifies the Job Retention Scheme to permit businesses in key industries like meat packing to “part furlough” staff for part of their working week, taxpayers and workers could reach a “win-win”.

If the scheme is modified, food businesses that have been heavily impacted by the closure of the restaurant and food service sector would win by not having to completely close down; the public would win by retaining vital supplies and services; and taxpayers would win by reducing the bill for wage subsidies which, according to the Resolution Foundation, are on track to be at least three times higher than original Treasury calculations.

Nick Allen, CEO of the British Meat Processors Association explained: “There are hundreds of businesses in key industries whose operations have been curtailed but are still able (and required) to continue operating to keep vital supplies and services going. However, the current furloughing scheme is an ‘all or nothing’ measure; staff can either work 100 percent of the time or they have to cease work entirely.

“For many businesses this is proving to be a blunt instrument because reducing production isn’t as simple as chopping out half a workforce. Maintaining operations requires a broad range of staff but for less time.

My industry, along with many key industries, cannot understand why this simple idea is not getting traction and we would urge the Chancellor to consider making this small change to the Job Retention Scheme in order to unlock some big ‘wins’.”



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