Su­nak urged to do more to pro­tect jobs in sport

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Ben Rumsby

Thou­sands of jobs in recre­ational sport “re­main un­der threat” un­der the re­place­ment for the Coro­n­avirus Job Re­ten­tion Scheme, the Govern­ment was warned yes­ter­day.

Rishi Su­nak, the Chan­cel­lor, stood ac­cused of fail­ing to go far enough to res­cue the sec­tor af­ter an­nounc­ing a Job Sup­port Scheme – to sub­sidise the pay of em­ploy­ees work­ing fewer than nor­mal hours – and the ex­ten­sion of other Covid-19 grants and tax breaks.

Huw Ed­wards, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Ukac­tive – which rep­re­sents 7,000 gyms, leisure cen­tres and swim­ming pools, as well as 200,000 staff – said: “We wel­come the mea­sures an­nounced to­day by the Chan­cel­lor, which will pro­vide some re­lief to the fit­ness and leisure sec­tor. How­ever, we must now see ur­gent tai­lored sup­port for our sur­vival.

“The Job Sup­port Scheme and ex­ten­sion to the Self-Em­ploy­ment In­come Sup­port Scheme is im­por­tant but, with many work­ers still on fur­lough, thou­sands of jobs re­main un­der threat and we await more de­tail on these ar­eas.

“The ex­ten­sion of govern­ment­backed loans schemes, and changes to the terms of re­pay­ment for Bounce Back Loans and Coro­n­avirus Busi­ness In­ter­rup­tion Loans, will help with cash flow, along­side pay­ment schemes for de­ferred VAT.

“How­ever, we can­not have a sit­u­a­tion where once again hos­pi­tal­ity and tourism are pri­ori­tised over the fit­ness and leisure sec­tor, which to date has re­ceived no tai­lored sup­port de­spite be­ing forced to close for a pro­longed pe­riod dur­ing lock­down.

“Our sec­tor re­quires a com­plete sup­port pack­age that not only in­cludes core fund­ing, but also stim­u­lus in­clud­ing VAT re­lief and ringfenced fund­ing for pub­lic leisure op­er­a­tors.

“There is no trade-off be­tween health and the econ­omy when it comes to in­vest­ing in our sec­tor.”

The chair­man of Tran­mere Rovers also warned the JSS “doesn’t make an im­pact” on clubs at risk of go­ing bust. Mark Palios, who con­firmed Tran­mere still had staff on fur­lough, said his club would “prob­a­bly take ad­van­tage” of the scheme, but said it would make lit­tle ma­te­rial dif­fer­ence to those whose big­gest earn­ers by far were play­ers – who he ex­pected to be in­el­i­gi­ble.

Clubs were al­lowed to fur­lough their play­ers when foot­ball was sus­pended in March but could only claim a max­i­mum of £2,500 per month per em­ployee. They also had to re­move those play­ers from the scheme when the game re­sumed.

An even lower ceil­ing of £697.92 per month ap­plies un­der the JSS, which will see the Govern­ment top up the wages of em­ploy­ees work­ing at least a third of their usual hours.

Sup­port pack­age: Rishi Su­nak has been told hos­pi­tal­ity and tourism should not have pri­or­ity over fit­ness and leisure

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