The chancellor has given a final refusal to pleas to extend furlough or give sector support to travel businesses.
In a letter to MPs, Rishi Sunak said he recognised “the extreme disruption” the pandemic had caused to businesses, “including those in the aviation, travel and tourism industries”.
However, he said the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) had already been extended until the end of September “when the scheme will close”.
“It would be challenging to target the CJRS to specific sectors in a fair and deliverable way,” he said.
Sunak was replying to Crawley MP Henry Smith, chair of the 70-strong all-party parliamentary group for the future of aviation and whose constituency includes Gatwick. The group wrote to Sunak in July, asking for furlough to be extended to March 2022 to prevent "significant job losses".
Sunak also rejected sector-specific grants for aviation, travel and tourism.
“Government has decided in England it is preferable to provide local authorities with funding at a scale and with the flexibility they need to best support their local economy, rather than create several dedicated grant funds such as one for the travel sector, to be administered from Whitehall,” he said.
Sunak claimed further funding had been offered through the Additional Restrictions Grant at local authorities’ discretion.
Labour MP Ben Bradshaw called the response “very disappointing… given the government’s continued, unreasonable, uniquely restrictive and costly international travel rules”.
Very disappointing reply from the Chancellor to our cross-party appeal for furlough to be extended in the travel industry, given the Government’s continued, unreasonable, uniquely restrictive & costly international travel rules. pic.twitter.com/ReF5UTkXAT— Ben Bradshaw (@BenPBradshaw) September 7, 2021