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The Government has announced a £1.57 billion package for the arts to prevent mass job losses due to the coronavirus pandemic while the TUC has called for the furlough scheme to be extended for vulnerable workers.
The Government has announced a £1.57 billion support package for cultural and heritage organisations to help them survive the coronavirus pandemic while the TUC has called for an extension to the furlough scheme for those who are vulnerable.
The aim is to preserve jobs in the arts and culture sector across the UK. The Government says it includes an extra £188 million for the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland (£33 million), Scotland (£97 million) and Wales (£59 million).
The package includes £120 million capital investment funding for national cultural institutions in England and investment in cultural and heritage sites to restart construction work paused as a result of the pandemic. There is also a £1.15 billion support pot for cultural organisations in England delivered through a mix of grants and loans. This will be made up of £270 million of repayable finance and £880 million grants. Decisions on awards will be made working alongside expert independent figures from the sector including the Arts Council England and other specialist bodies such as Historic England, National Lottery Heritage Fund and the British Film Institute.
It comes after arts venues announced that they were on the brink of closure, with some theatres already closing, because they cannot operate due to coronavirus restrictions.
There have also been calls for the furlough scheme to be extended for sectors like the arts which may struggle to reopen after October.
Meanwhile, the TUC has joined a coalition of charities including Age UK and National Voices to call on the government to extend the furlough scheme for shielding and high-risk workers.
The government recently announced that shielding restrictions will be lifted across parts of the country from the 1st August with many having to return to work despite being at heightened risk.
However, a TUC report reveals that many may not be able to go back to work safely, because they still face a high risk from coronavirus and that localised outbreaks are likely to lead to reinstatement of shielding restrictions in the future. It says others, including those with childcare or wider caring responsibilities, also lack the support they need to get back to work and need the furlough scheme to be extended.
It calls on the Government to make access to support easier for high-risk workers, for instance, through a GP note saying they qualify for furlough; to ensure workers who continue to work from home have appropriate support, for instance, through a one-off payment from government-funded scheme Access to Work; to guaranteed flexible working from day one; and give all workers, regardless of their employment status, a day one right to 10 days paid parental leave.
Meanwhile, it has been clarified that the furlough scheme can be used during both redundancy consultation and notice periods, but not for the calculation of redundancy pay.