Labour councillors call to reconsider end of furlough scheme

David Ellesmere, leader of Ipswich Borough Council (left) and councillor Jack Abbott, Suffolk's Labo

David Ellesmere, leader of Ipswich Borough Council (left) and councillor Jack Abbott, Suffolk's Labour spokesman for education, have written to the Prime Minister calling for a rethink to the end of the furlough scheme. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: ARCHANT

The leader of Ipswich Borough Council is among more than 1,000 Labour councillors and mayors across the UK who have written to Boris Johnson urging him to rethink plans to end the furlough scheme.

The government has said furlough – which was introduced back in March – will end in its entirety on October 31, a decision that is being criticised as being overly simplistic.

Labour politicians are calling for a targeted financial support scheme, which they say would prevent “mass unemployment” as the job retention scheme comes to an end in October.

The targeted financial support scheme would target industries worst hit by the pandemic, support any areas under local lockdown restrictions and ensure incomes for people who are forced to self-isolate.

It has been backed by 150 councillors in the East of England, including the leader of Ipswich Borough Council David Ellesmere.

Jack Abbott, Suffolk’s Labour spokesman for education, said: “The communities we represent are facing an unprecedented employment crisis should Boris Johnson not reverse his decision to withdraw the furlough scheme in its entirety - he is putting millions of jobs at risk.

“The fact that well over 1,000 councillors and local representatives have signed this letter underlines the strength of feeling behind this campaign.

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“Without targeted support for sectors and local lockdown areas that have been badly affected by the pandemic, we know that viable businesses will fail and employment will be lost. This will extinguish any hopes of a quick economic recovery from the deep recession we are facing.”

The letter sent to Boris Johnson last week also outlines support for the Alliance for Full Employment, launched by former prime minister Gordon Brown, the North’s Metro Mayors, the Welsh First Minister, Mayor of Bristol and Mayor of Greater London, Sadiq Khan.

The campaign demands that the Government sets up a financial support system that targets industries worst hit by the pandemic and ensures incomes for people who are forced to self-isolate.

Gordon Brown, added: “So many Labour leaders across the localities of Britain coming together to back our Alliance for Full Employment shows the extreme anxiety about mounting unemployment.

A Treasury spokesman said: “The furlough scheme has done what it was designed to do - save jobs and help people back into employment.

“And many of our unprecedented interventions - including the Job Retention Bonus, business rates holidays, VAT cuts and the Kickstart Scheme - will ensure this support continues into next year.

“We’ve not hesitated to act in creative and effective ways to support jobs and we will continue to do so as we recover from this crisis.”