Rishi Sunak Rules Out Extension To UK Furlough Scheme
The finance minister believes that the scheme, which has enabled UK-based companies to claim 80% of workers wages whilst they don’t work, should end in October, without an extension. This is because he believes it would leave workers with a sense of false hope that they will be returning to jobs following the COVID-19 pandemic, even though the jobs may not be there.
Opposing politicians, political experts and more have asked Sunak to extend the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme beyond October, with fears that the economy cannot currently support the at-risk working population, as redundancies in all sectors continue to rise.
However, speaking to BBC Radio Scotland on Thursday, Rishi Sunak said “It’s wrong to keep people trapped in a situation and pretend that there is always a job that they can go back to.” Instead of extending the scheme, the government is rolling out a number of new initiatives to support people getting back into working in new roles. New opportunities, such as apprenticeships and training courses, will be more readily available and accessible than ever before.
The Bank of England has released figures estimating that approximately 7.5mn Brits made use of the job retention scheme at its peak, with 3.5mn still leaning on it now for incomes. Andrew Bailey, a governor for the Bank of England, has warned that certain sectors of the economy, hospitality and leisure in particular, are going to be especially vulnerable after the pandemic clears, with a significant number of jobs at risk.
Bailey continued, warning that the unemployment rate for the UK is projected to stand at around 7.5%. This paints a very bleak picture for businesses and workers alike, and things could still easily turn out to be worse.
Discussing austerity measures, Rishi Sunak said there would be no return to austerity for the UK. He is confident that, if the UK can drive a recovery, many loans will be repaid by the banks and companies they were given to. However, a number of these loans will, inevitably, have to be written off, being given as emergency stimulus aids to keep business alive and the economy operating efficiently.
The UK government is now turning its attention to creating new opportunities and strengthening sustainable public finances, with public spending set to grow.
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.