Local Liberal Democrats have welcomed the Job Support Scheme, but argued that it is too little, too late – while blasting the area's Conservative MP for showing a "total lack of leadership" on the issue.
They argue that the scheme will not go far enough to protect the events, tourism, and hospitality businesses "whose income has been obliterated as a result of Covid", three sectors that Harrogate & Knaresborough's economy relies so heavily on.
Judith Rogerson and the local Liberal Democrats have been calling for an extension to the scheme for months, but in August Andrew Jones dismissed concerns over a sharp rise in unemployment as "alarmist".
They claim that today's announcement vindicates these unemployment concerns and demonstrates yet another example of "a total lack of leadership" from Andrew Jones MP.
With Harrogate & Knaresborough's local economy heavily reliant on the hospitality and tourism industries – two sectors that have been unable to bounce back as a result of Government restrictions – a failure to provide support could lead to substantial business closures and redundancies.
Commenting, Judith Rogerson said:
"Since we launched our campaign, many local residents have written to me expressing worries about what comes next. Some have already been made redundant and others have told me that they are terrified of losing their homes.
"If people have been sending these messages to me, it's hard to believe that people haven't also been writing to their MP. To dismiss concerns about unemployment as "alarmist" was frankly unacceptable and actually pretty heartless.
"Harrogate & Knaresborough's MP should be standing up for his constituents and taking stance on important issues. Instead, he has once again demonstrated a total lack of local leadership.
"The new scheme will not support those businesses whose income has been obliterated as a result of Covid. Local businesses that cannot afford to pay 1/3 of wages to their staff will inevitably be forced to make significant numbers redundant. I am thinking in particular about the events industry where it is at present almost impossible to earn any income. We know how crucial this sector is to our local economy here in Harrogate.
"What's more, today's announcement has said nothing about the millions of people who have been excluded from Government support throughout the Covid pandemic. The Chancellor's announcement is welcome but it doesn't go far enough to protect jobs and incomes."