Following the Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s announcement introducing a new Job Support Scheme, (JSS), which replaces the ‘furlough scheme’ and means the Government will pay part of workers’ wages who have lost hours, Jeremy Cooper, Head of Retail, at national, audit, tax, advisory and risk firm Crowe reacts to the lack of support this provides for the Retail sector.
“Following the announcement of the Job Support Scheme (JSS) late last week, I am disappointed at the clear lack of new support for the retail sector. The Chancellor made it clear that the JSS is designed to protect ‘viable’ jobs in businesses facing lower demand over the winter months due to COVID-19, to help keep their employees attached to the workforce. This scheme is not going to be popular with retailers who are facing a structural change in the sector meaning the high street will see major job losses of frontline, customer facing roles.
“This scheme needs a rethink. The government cannot propose that retailers pay their employees 55% of their wages for only 33% work – this is simple not viable – especially as employers will also be required to pay Employers’ National Insurance as well as pension contributions. With 1.25 million* employees in the retail sector having been employed for less than two years, struggling retailers will inevitably look to cut their costs and the payroll bill, and these employees, often younger employees, will bear the brunt of any job cuts.
“Over the past six months we have seen a sharp increase in online shopping, resulting in many high street retailer struggling to stay in business. The original Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and the business rates relief for 2020/21 were very welcome to the sector but the failure to review this outdated rates system will accelerate the move away from bricks and mortar retail. Expect to see more CVAs and administrations as more traditional retailers seek to restructure their property portfolio unless landlords are prepared to show some flexibility with their retail tenants.”