Author: Emma Robson
53,100 people in the region were still receiving furlough when the scheme came to an end on the 30th of September.
With the Covid-19 pandemic forcing many businesses to close, the £70 billion pound government scheme has been responsible for supporting millions of people across the UK over the last 18 months. However, with the scheme now coming to an end, concerns are being raised about whether the end of the scheme will see unemployment figures in the region soar.
Economists have forewarned that although many people may find employment in the sectors that are beginning to recover such as travel and hospitality, there is also likely to be new redundancies as a result of businesses losing access to the government funding. The North-East Chamber of Commerce warns that the end of furlough could be tough for businesses as they have new problems arising due to the after effects of the pandemic, “we’ve got a whole new wave of issues that are hitting them (businesses)…price rises, supply chain issues, labour issues etc.”
The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, and Member of Parliament for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Simon Clarke said the current employment situation in the UK is “really strong.” He added, “It’s been a huge success in meaning this awful situation hasn’t cost millions of jobs which would have been the central estimate when this all began.”
Despite this, there are over 1 million people who were expecting to be receiving furlough past the end of September, and Rishi Sunak has announced a new scheme to support families who need it most with rising fuel costs. The ‘Household Support Fund’ will provide many families with extra cash, distributed by local councils to help families with essentials over the coming months.
Alan Custis, head of UK equities at Lazard Asset Management, stated that the rate of employment which fell to 4.6% last month is likely to swing higher over the coming months. Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics has expressed concern that consumer demand will not have broadened enough for businesses to re-employ all their staff who remained on furlough.
Leaders in some of the most heavily affected industries have urged for policy reforms in other areas. Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said: “With businesses currently experiencing a record number of vacancies, our hope is that those seeking employment will consider the varied and exciting opportunities a career in hospitality offers. She added, ‘in order to drive further job creation, we urge the Government to implement a long-overdue reform of business rates and a permanently lower rate of VAT for hospitality and tourism in order to help fragile businesses back on their feet.”
However, the end of the schemes comes with a record number of UK vacancies, the Office of National Statistics data reporting that there are more than a million job openings currently throughout the UK for the first time on record. There has been a surge in the hiring of HGV drivers, warehouse staff and food production workers, and countries such as the United States of America and Australia also faced similar spikes in unemployment when their financial support schemes came to an end.
The Government insists that now the vast majority of restrictions have been relaxed, it is the right time to end the scheme and concentrate on creating skills and opportunities.
Fenwicks Announce Ticketed Christmas Programme
Tickets are to go on sale this morning for the hugely popular Santa on the Roof events which are a highlight of the festive season at Fenwick in Newcastle.
The city centre store announced the return of the children’s treat as part of its Christmas programme which, besides the grand unveiling of its annual window display, will include the popular Santa’s Cinema, breakfast and supper clubs with the big man and – new for this year – an afternoon tea event.
Santa on the Roof is an immersive experience which sees elves accompany ticket-holders on a Santa’s Express Elevator ride to the store’s rooftop to meet singing reindeer before they take an ‘elf-mobile’ to meet Santa in his cabin. It will be back this year from November 7 up until Christmas Eve, December 24 and this will go on sale first.
Tickets, costing £17.50, will be available from Thursday, September 29. And families will need to be quick off the mark as they are always quickly snapped up.
Sales of Fenwick’s other seasonal experiences, running November and December, will follow in October. These will include tickets for Santa’s Breakfast Club, Santa’s Supper Club, Santa’s Cinema and the new event, Afternoon Tea with Santa.
This year, Fenwick’s says that all restaurant experiences do not include a visit to Santa on the Roof as part of the experience so this must be purchased separately. And, due to the acticipated high demand, Fenwick ticket provider Ticketsource will be providing a virtual queue to help manage bookings. The advice for keen customers – from the moment they join the queue – is to avoid loading multiple tabs or refreshing their browser.
The Santa on the Roof experience will also offer youngsters a chance to enjoy craft activities with the elves, including decorating a bespoke ceramic plate to take home, and there will a stop-off too at Café Claus for winter-warming drinks and sweet treats along with an opportunity to take an ‘Elfie’ inside Santa’s sleigh, says the store.
Santa’s Cinema, screening festive family films, will be located on the fifth floor of the department store from Thursday, November 10 and will cost £17.50. Adults will be able to choose between a complimentary mulled wine or spiced apple juice and young ones can enjoy hot chocolate or juice plus plenty popcorn.
There also will be a Roof Thirty-Nine Pre-Cinema Experience available for £35 where, before the film screening, guests will be able to take in the view from Fenwick’s roof-top restaurant alongside a cocktail, nibbles and a main course.
This year the festive breakfast and supper club events will take place inside Fenwick’s new Arthur’s Restaurant on the first floor. Santa’s Breakfast Club will run on Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings from Friday, November 9 until Friday, December 23, offering waffles, eggs and sausages. Young guests will receive elf hats and colouring books before meeting the mischievous elves and Santa for a picture and Christmas gift. Tickets will be £20.
Cinemas to screen the Queen’s funeral for free on Monday
Around 150 cinemas across the UK will open on Monday to allow people to watch the Queen’s state funeral for free, while suspending the screening of films, to allow the public to mourn together.
Vue, Curzon and Arc will all screen the funeral proceedings free of charge at select venues from 10am. The funeral will take place at 11am on Monday, September 19 at Westminster Abbey.
Vue has cinemas in Gateshead, Cramlington and Hartlepool and will suspend normal scheduling on the national day of mourning. The chain issued a statement to inform the public that: “Seats will be free of charge and our retail offering on this day will be limited to complimentary bottled water during the broadcast, with no other snacks or drinks available for purchase.”
In addition, they will also screen the London Procession in the majority of their UK venues on Wednesday, 14 September, live from 1.30pm. On this day all other screens will be open showing film content as normal.
Other cinemas across the UK have decided to offer this too, including Arc Cinema, Reel Cinemas, Picturedome and Savoy.
The largest cinema chains, Odeon and Cineworld, will remain closed alongside Picturehouse, Showcase and The Light.
Will you be going to a showing – let us know on our Facebook page and join the conversation –
North East foodbanks to close on Monday as the Queen’s funeral is held
Several foodbanks across the North East will close their warehouses and distribution centres this Bank Holiday Monday, the day the Queen’s funeral is being held.
In the North East, Gateshead Foodbank has announced that it will be closed on Monday to reopen the following day. Sunderland and County Durham Foodbank will also be closed, as well as their foodbank warehouse.
It was announced that the day of the Queen’s funeral would be a bank holiday by King Charles III this weekend, as a national day of mourning for Queen Elizabeth II. Her Majesty’s funeral will take place at 11am on Monday, September 19 at Westminster Abbey. The public will be able to pay their respects 24 hours a day for four days until 6.30am on Monday, while the Queen lies in state in the Palace of Westminster.
The Trussell Trust work to stop UK hunger and poverty, and their network of foodbanks provides emergency food and support to people in crisis. A spokesperson told the Mirror that food banks across the country were given the option to close or stay open depending on the needs of their community.
They clarified that “foodbanks are all independent, but we have emailed saying it is a bank holiday and they can decide what to do. It really depends on the local need on the ground, the volunteers will know if they are particularly quiet on a Monday, or if it is a busier day.”
The decision to close a number of foodbanks has proved to be controversial, with some slamming the move as classist. What are your thoughts?
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