The Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) has welcomed Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s decision to introduce a Job Support Scheme, but it says that Mr Sunak has “missed an opportunity” to further help the coach industry.

The Job Support Scheme will be introduced on 1 November. It will succeed the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. It will be open to all businesses and last for six months, although large businesses will only be eligible if they have seen their turnover fall by 33% or more.

Qualifying employees must work at least 33% of their usual hours for the first three months of the scheme. Those hours will be paid by the employer.

For the hours that they do not work, the employee’s wage will be topped up by both the employer and the government. Each of the latter two parties will contribute one third of the usual pay for the hours not being worked. Employees can cycle on and off the scheme, but each short-time working arrangement must cover a period of at least seven days. The government contribution is capped at £697.92 per month.

Coach industry support still needed, says CPT Head of Policy

CPT Head of Policy Alison Edwards says that while the Confederation is “pleased” that Mr Sunak has listened to it and the wider business community and introduced measures to help stem potential job losses, many coach operators still face a challenging winter period. They would thus benefit from further “breathing room” to trade their way out of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic in 2021.

Ms Edwards adds that Mr Sunak should have extended vehicle finance payment holidays by 12 months, with the government paying the associated interest charges that would incur. CPT first called for this measure in August. It says that many operators are still not able to restart finance payments.

She adds that further, bespoke support for the coach industry is still required as it faces up to the ongoing challenge of social distancing reducing vehicle capacities.

‘Help is needed for the industry to bounce back fully’

A day before the Chancellor unveiled the Job Support Scheme, CPT Chief Executive Graham Vidler called upon him to ensure that the coach industry could access any further support offered by the government.

Mr Vidler told Mr Sunak that while coach operators “are making plans to bounce back in 2021,” a widespread loss of jobs within the industry would compromise the capacity that could be provided in next year’s peak season. Such a result “would not only prevent the [coach] sector from bouncing back, but also have a wider impact on UK tourism,” Mr Vidler added.