Winchester businesses representatives have been commenting on the end of the furlough scheme how it will affect local businesses.

The furlough scheme ended on September 30 so Winchester businesses may be facing uncertain futures with many looking to keep staff on without having make make redundancies.

Across the country, it helped pay the wages of 11.6 million workers since March 2020.

Business leaders from around Winchester have been giving their take on the end of the scheme and how it will affect local businesses.

Hampshire Chamber Chief Executive and Executive Chairman Ross McNally said: “Millions of jobs and livelihoods have been saved through the furlough safety net.

“It has been wound down in a tapered, measured way with due notice but its withdrawal now will still mean considerable uncertainty for many employees and businesses.

“Our members have already done much planning to prepare for the end of the scheme. Their task now is to continue with cost control while searching for growth opportunities.

“We call on the government to maintain flexibility in its range of business support measures to help companies to trade their way out of this difficult period.”

Cllr Martin Tod, Winchester City Councillor for economic recovery, thinks that the scheme should be extended.

He said: “A few businesses are still being hit very hard hit by Covid restrictions and the Liberal Democrats nationally have made clear that sectors still being affected by the pandemic should have furlough extended.

“Coming on top of rising fuel prices, cuts to Universal Credit and future increases in National Insurance, many families are going to be under real pressure now it’s ended.

“Covid may mean that some sectors won’t come back to their previous levels, but in those cases, there needs to be support to help people get the skills they need to move in a new direction.”

Winchester BID Executive Director, Dr Paul Spencer, told the Chronicle that his group are currently conducting a survey to determine the impact of the end of furlough on businesses in the city centre.

Dr Spencer said: “Furlough has protected many jobs and the end of the scheme clearly brings with it uncertainty for people who have not yet fully returned to work.

“However, we do know that Winchester businesses have gone to considerable lengths throughout the pandemic to avoid redundancies, although of course some have been unavoidable.

“Our next Winchester Business Barometer survey is currently underway and the results of this will provide a clearer picture of the impacts of the end of furlough in our city centre.”

The results of the survey will be published in a report later this month.