Meat businesses suffering from the coronavirus downturn would benefit from more flexibility in the government's offer of staff furlough payments.

Speaking from the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers, head of policy Norman Bagley said: “We welcome the measures taken by Government during this national emergency and in particular the ‘Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme’ which allows for staff to be furloughed – but as it stands this is very much a one size fits all scheme and simply doesn’t taken into account the differences that exist from industry to industry.

“What we are hearing is that many have seen a downturn in their businesses but do not have the need to fully close," reported Mr Bagley. "We would like to see the option for flexible furlough whereby staff would receive their full earnings from their employers on the days they work and the 80% furlough payment on the days they don't.

“Many of our members supply much of what they produce to the hospitality industry who through government instruction are not currently operating. They have some additional retail business, and many have moved into home delivery. However, those sales in no way will replace the business lost.”

AIMS believes that if businesses could operate flexible furlough then there would be a saving to the country’s finances and businesses would be more likely to survive the impact of coronavirus.

AIMS board member, and managing director of Euro Quality Lambs, Rizvan Khalid, said: “To keep the food chain going as much as needed, and to reduce where it can, it makes more sense – to save money for the exchequer and to increase stay at home occasions – to have a flexible furlough scheme where abattoirs can decide on the number of days needed to meet their current demand.”



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