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Seafarers: Furlough Scheme

Volume 680: debated on Thursday 17 September 2020

What estimate he has made of the number of UK seafarers who will be directly affected by the end of the Government’s furlough schemes. (906204)

There is no appropriate statistical breakdown. The Government’s focus is to support the sector’s recovery and to stimulate jobs and growth.

The job retention scheme has clearly helped businesses right across our economy, including in the maritime industries of port constituencies such as mine in east Hull, but when it is clear that the shipping and ferry sectors may take years to recover, the Chancellor is casting jobs in east Hull adrift by ending the furlough scheme, with no replacement and no plan. What action is the Minister taking to ensure that British seafarers, who have kept this country afloat throughout the pandemic, do not bear the brunt of that short-sighted decision? Will he please assure me that the UK will retain the maritime skills base that is vital for our future?

The hon. Gentleman makes a number of excellent points. I am encouraged to see that some firms such as P&O have offered their own job retention schemes with a view to reducing any redundancies that have been announced. More broadly, I will work with all aspects of the sector to hear their views and to see how the Department may be able to help. Maritime 2050, which I will look at with fresh eyes, gives a good opportunity to see what policy objectives may be possible in the future, but I assure the hon. Gentleman and the House that it remains a long-term policy objective of the Government to grow the number of UK seafarers and to support the sector.