Enhanced Job Support Scheme ‘must capture coach operators’

The Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) says it will be lobbying the government to recognise coach operators that are forced to close because of enhanced restrictions over the winter as being eligible for the expanded Job Support Scheme (JSS). 

On Friday 9 October, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that businesses that are legally mandated to shut will receive additional support through JSS, which will succeed the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme on 1 November. Under those circumstances, the government will pay two-thirds of each employee’s salary up to a maximum of £2,100 per month, although employers will cover NICS and pension contributions.

Businesses will only be able to claim the enhanced JSS grant when they are subject to restrictions. Employees must be off work for a minimum of seven consecutive days. 

Says CPT Head of Policy Alison Edwards: “The coach industry has been decimated by the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. But in some places there were the beginnings of green shoots of recovery. However, it will be nearly impossible for coach companies to operate within affected areas even if they are not formally asked to close. Others will find their options for viable tours and trips further reduced from an already limited selection. 

“It is imperative that coach operators across the country affected by further lockdown measures are eligible for the new, expanded JSS and are not once again forgotten by the government.” 

The extension to JSS complements the originally announced mechanism. That will see the government pay wages for one third of an employee’s normal hours that they otherwise do not work. 

The first stage of the Job Support Scheme was described as not a “viable proposition” for the coach operators specialising in the tourism sector by CPT Chief Executive Graham Vidler when he addressed the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee on 29 September. But Mr Vidler did accept that JSS may well benefit those operators that are active in the home-to-school market.