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Furlough UK: Jobs placed in doubt as business owners make 'personal sacrifices' to survive

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Furlough payments have been utilised by workers and employers across the UK and while Rishi Sunak recently extended various support schemes, new research highlights some of this support may come too late for many. According to new analysis from QuickBooks, many small businesses have had to make a host of personal sacrifices just to keep afloat and staff employed.

The reality of these problems was commented on by Carina Lepore the winner of The Apprentice 2019 and owner of South London bakery Dough Bakehouse.

She detailed: “I know first-hand the human impact of payroll – not being able to pay my staff could affect someone’s ability to pay their rent or mortgage. The sense of responsibility is huge.

“Through lockdown we managed to pivot quickly through digital to takeaway which allowed us to stay open and trading, but like most other small businesses we were hit by the pandemic.

“To keep all my staff on I had to make a number of personal sacrifices, but I wanted to do this as my staff are my priority.”

Paulune Green, the Head of Product Compliance at QuickBooks, reflected on the data: “Payroll took on a new emotional significance in 2020 as small business owners were forced to weigh up challenging decisions such as putting staff on furlough or making pay cuts, and the resulting impact on employees and their families.

“Despite facing intense pressure for a long time, small business owners showed remarkable resilience and determination to keep their businesses going and their employees in jobs, with huge numbers making unforgettable personal sacrifices.”

While 2020 was undoubtedly difficult for many, QuickBooks noted 50 percent of small business owners are feeling more optimistic for the year ahead when compared to the initial lockdown period in March 2020.

Pauline concluded by examining this optimism: “Our recent data found that two thirds of small businesses now plan to keep all of their furloughed staff and one in three are even planning on expanding their workforce in 2021.

“It is brilliant to see small business owners’ commitment to keeping their company going and staff on their payroll now starting to pay off, as we look forward to the end of lockdown.”

In the 2021 Budget, Rishi Sunak extended the furlough scheme into September 2021, meaning businesses should get support well beyond the summer, where the Government aims to ease restrictions.

The Chancellor explained how the continued support will work: “First, the furlough scheme will be extended until the end of September.

“For employees, there will be no change to the terms – they will continue to receive 80 percent of their salary, for hours not worked, until the scheme ends.

“As businesses reopen, we’ll ask them to contribute alongside the taxpayer to the cost of paying their employees.

“Nothing will change until July, when we will ask for a small contribution of just 10 percent and 20 percent in August and September.”

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