Tracy Brabin MP is calling on the Government to bring forward changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) to allow travel agents to process customer refunds while receiving furlough payments.

Under the CJRS, furloughed employees receive 80% of their salary from the Government, but are unable to do any work for their employer.

In a situation unique to the travel industry, the Government advising against all but essential travel has seen an unprecedented number of customer cancellations and refunds to process. Travel agents have had to keep staff working to process cancellations and refunds while making no money, and in the majority of cases actually losing money.

This is why Tracy Brabin, MP for Batley and Spen, has called on the Government to allow the travel industry to be able to access the CJRS for staff, while keeping them on to continue work which is of no financial benefit. This follows discussions with a number of travel agents which serve the community of Batley and Spen.

The Government has said companies can start bringing workers back while still receiving furlough payments from August, but this could be too late for the 500,000 people working in the travel industry.

Ms Brabin is also asking the Government to consider temporarily amending the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018, by extending the 14-day refund window for travel companies until July 31, 2020, backing Refund Credit Notes for customers who can wait and subsidising refunds for those who cannot.

Tracy Brabin, MP for Batley and Spen, said: “The travel industry has never seen a situation like this before, with air travel across the world impacted by Covid-19.

“That’s why I’m asking the Government to consider these changes to help customers get their money back, support the industry and protect half a million jobs. Allowing travel agents to access the CJRS furlough payments, while keeping staff in to process refunds, would save many companies from going under and help get customers their money back quicker.

“Extending the refund window will also give travel agents much needed breathing space to claw money back from airlines and hotels for their customers. With the Government being the financial guarantor of refunds under ATOL, it would be in its interest to protect the industry from going under in the future.

“Taking these steps would protect our travel industry while still allowing customers to get their hard earned money back.”

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