Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Coronavirus: recruitment industry welcomes latest package from Chancellor, but more needs to be done

The Government must urgently enhance support for businesses to get them through the COVID-19 crisis, according the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC).

The REC is calling on the Government to act swiftly and build on the support package announced in last week’s budget and in today’s press conference.

According to a letter sent to the Prime Minister earlier today, the government should further enhance state support to cover the cost of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for all businesses regardless of staff size. This should cover absence for up to 14 days. Many businesses, for example recruitment agencies, are small firms, with few operational staff, but can have many thousands of agency staff on their books who are currently not eligible for government support. 

The REC is also calling on government to help businesses by offering greater flexibility in the timescale for paying VAT and PAYE, and by deferring the upcoming IR35 tax reforms which were already putting a strain on employment businesses. The REC welcomed the Chancellor’s announcement on the loan scheme which it had previously called for.

Neil Carberry, CEO of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), said:

“Coronavirus is putting enormous strain on good businesses and many are facing major cash constraints, putting tens of thousands of jobs at risk. We welcomed the support offered by the Chancellor last week and today’s announcement on the loan scheme will help businesses defer some immediate costs to see them though in the short-term. 

“We ask the government to provide support to cover the cost of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for all businesses regardless of staff size. We are also asking that they allow for flexibility in  VAT and PAYE payments, and suspend the upcoming tax changes until normality resumes. This will help to keep people in their jobs and allow firms to start hiring again. In return, businesses must also take a proactive approach to protecting their staff and preparing for a future where we will all have to be more flexible about the ways we work.”