The government has rebuffed a tour operator’s petition calling for an extension of the furlough scheme for the travel industry.
Andrew Horrobin, of Encounters Travel, gained more than 50,000 signatures for his call for the furlough scheme to be extended beyond October.
But it fell short of the 100,000 needed to trigger a debate in Parliament.
The Treasury responded by saying it would be difficult to target the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) at specific sectors without “creating distortions”.
In response to Horrobin’s petition, the Treasury said: “There are other schemes including the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme that can provide support to firms in the travel industry.
“Businesses in the travel industry will also be able to claim under the Job Support Scheme if they meet the eligibility criteria. More guidance will be published shortly.
“If firms across the most affected sectors find themselves in severe and urgent financial difficulties as a result of Covid-19, even following the government‘s cross-economy wage and financial interventions, then the government remains open to discussions about bespoke financial support but only as a last resort.
“Any intervention would need to be on terms appropriate to protect the interests of taxpayers.”
A statement said: “The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is specifically designed to protect jobs and support businesses threatened by the pandemic, across the whole country and across all sectors. The scheme has successfully protected over 9 million jobs to date, and will close after running for eight full months.
“However, the government’s judgement has been that it would be extremely challenging to extend the CJRS for specific sectors in a fair and deliverable way, and to do so may not be the most effective or sensible means by which to provide longer term support for those sectors most affected by Covid-19.
“It would also be difficult to target the CJRS at specific sectors without creating distortions, particularly since many firms work across multiple sectors.”
Horrobin said: “Unfortunately there is nothing much of great significance in their response, but I still think it seems to have been a good exercise to get the industry talking.”
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