Edinburgh MP calls for extension of furlough to save businesses in struggling travel industry

Travel businesses could collapse collapse unless the UK government extends the furlough scheme, Edinburgh West Lib Dem MP Christine Jardine has warned.

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She says continuing restrictions on holidays abroad mean some firms are unsure how long they can keep going and livelihoods are at risk.

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The government has already started phasing out the furlough scheme, requiring employers to pay an increasing share of staff wages, and it is due to stop at the end of September.

Figueretas beach on Ibiza - UK citizens normally make up the largest share of foreign tourists in Spain Picture: Andres Iglesias/Getty Images)

But Ms Jardine said she had been speaking to organisations in the sector who were extremely worried about about the consequences of the continuing uncertainty surrounding the industry and furlough finishing.

She said: “The travel industry needs help. They are concerned that if furlough isn't extended – which we've been calling on them to do – then businesses will collapse.

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"They have lost another summer of business because of restrictions. Vaccines were supposed to be the way out of it, but the restrictions on travel are stricter than they were last year when no-one was vaccinated. The Scottish Government has eased up on the quarantine requirements but the list is changing all the time.

“There are businesses which have been going for 30 years who don't know if they'll make it for another month, and if they don't get furlough they could be in serious trouble.”

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She said the Lib Dems were determined to maintain pressure on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to extend furlough.

"He needs to be thinking about long-term plan, a strategy to get businesses out the other side of this because if businesses collapse and the economy shrinks then we all lose.

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“There jobs and livelihoods at stake. The economy needs to keep these businesses going – I know it's expensive but the cost of not doing it is also huge.

“It's not just the travel industry, it's other sectors as well, but the travel industry has been particularly hard hit.”

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She said there were fears of redundancy across the sector.

"We're calling on them to extend furlough into next year because this is not going to be fixed miraculously in September. Independent businesses, travel operators, travel agents, high street businesses are all going to need more help and we need to know from the government what that help is going to be.”

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