"Thousands falling through cracks” in Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme claim Plaid

Thousands of people are falling through the cracks in the UK Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, Plaid Cymru have said.

Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Economy Minister Helen Mary Jones AM said that those who would have been changing jobs at the time the lockdown began and the scheme was introduced had been unable to be eligible for the retention scheme.

The Treasury currently only accepts an individual as a ‘genuine employee’ if they were on the payroll of the business or organisation on or before the cut-off date, which was moved last week to March 19th.

New employees who are paid monthly do not usually show up on the payroll until the end of the month at which they were first employed therefore those who began a new job on the 1st of March would not show up on the payroll until the 31st and would therefore be ineligible for the scheme.

Ms Jones said the Westminster Government suggested people who find themselves in this position should “go back to their previous employers and ask to be furloughed there” however the Shadow Economy Minister said that many employers were “refusing to do this”.

Ms Jones added that these people would also not automatically be eligible for universal credit as they would technically be employed even if they were not being paid.

Tiffany Elliot-Harrison from Saltney in Flintshire, north Wales said that she had been changing jobs when the lockdown came into force. Due to start her new job at a local hospice on the 2nd of April she handed in her notice at the beginning of March.

However, her new job was withdrawn due to the impact of the Coronavirus and her ex employer has refused to re-employ and furlough her despite her being eligible.

Ms Elliot-Harrison says she has been refused for Universal Credit and is now living on £74 per week through Jobseekers Allowance. Her heart condition makes it hard for her to find a new job.

She said she feels “utterly dejected”. 

Ms Jones called for the Treasury to accept genuine proof of appointment such as copies of appointment letter or a signed contract as evidence that the individual is a new employee and eligible to be furloughed.

The Shadow Economy Minister added that if the Westminster Government wouldn’t help then the Welsh Government should by introducing an Emergency Welsh Basic Income.

Plaid Cymru Shadow Economy Minister Helen Mary Jones AM said,

“Thousands of people are falling through the cracks and missing out on the UK Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme because they were changing jobs just at the time the lockdown began and the scheme was introduced making them ineligible for furlough.

“The Westminster Government is suggesting that people in this position go back to their previous employers and ask to be furloughed there but many employers are refusing to do this. These people may also not be eligible for benefits, as technically they are employed even if they’re not being paid.

“Thanks to the Westminster Government’s glaring oversight, thousands of people are facing being plunged into poverty and uncertainty. The Westminster Government must fix this by enabling the Treasury to accept genuine proof of appointment, such as copies of appointment letter or a signed contract as evidence that this individual is a genuine new employee and therefore eligible to be furloughed.

“Hundreds of people have been in touch with me in distrsss about where this leaves them. We have no idea how many people in Wales will be left without any form of income because of this. If the Westminster Government won’t step up to help these people then the Welsh Government must – by introducing an Emergency Welsh Basic Income.

Tiffany Elliot-Harrison said,

“I got a new job working for a local hospice shortly before the lockdown. I was due to start on the 2nd of April and handed in my notice to my previous employer at the beginning of March.

“However, two weeks before my new role started, the job was withdrawn due to the Coronavirus and the hospice itself struggling to survive. My ex employer has refused to re-employ and furlough me despite my eligibility.

“I’ve been refused for Universal Credit and am now living on just £74 a week through Jobseekers’ Allowance. I have a heart condition which will make finding a new job in this climate really hard - if not impossible. It’s mortifying. There are days where I just feel so utterly dejected. I don’t know what I’m going to do.

“The change from the UK Government announced to extend the date to 19th March is a total falsehood and isn't going to help 200,000 people as they've claimed at all. We're still fighting for change. 


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