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Department needs to outline support measures it will provide after furlough ends, says Dickson

The Department for the Economy needs to outline what steps it is taking to support businesses once furlough ends this week, Alliance Economy spokesperson Stewart Dickson MLA has said.

The financial support scheme was introduced at the start of the pandemic, to pay 80 per cent of an organisation’s wage bill, to keep staff on the payroll rather than lay them off. However, it is due to end on September 30. Mr Dickson said despite the easing of some restrictions, some businesses were still without clarity.

“We are rapidly approaching the cliff edge of the end of furlough this week,” said Mr Dickson.

“The scheme was a relief for businesses and employees but while most companies have now reopened, several remain under restrictions and it is financially unviable for them to reopen. Come Friday, if they cannot open fully and cannot pay staff via furlough, some may have to close.

“The Department for the Economy needs to outline what support steps it is going to take once furlough ends this week. As we move towards the busy Christmas period, our businesses need all the help they can get. I encourage the Department to communicate what they are doing urgently and clearly, before furlough is ended.”