SADLY, redundancies are mounting as furlough ends. It’s a tragedy for those losing their jobs and finding another isn’t easy. They’ve often given years of dedicated service. Hopefully, the position may be restored when all this passes or another opportunity comes along.

It’s not easy for employers either, though, even if the consequences just aren’t the same. Local businesses have been telling me of the sorrow in having to lay off staff they’ve worked with and almost considered as family. That’s never easy and yet it’s essential if the business is to survive.

Retaining the furlough scheme was vital. Many businesses just can’t reopen. Sustaining them until this crisis passes is what’s required. They need to be in existence to reopen. If they collapse, it isn’t just jobs lost now, but forever.

The replacement scheme is entirely inadequate, which is why the Chancellor required to return to the House of Commons last week offering improvements. But whilst welcome, they’re still inadequate.

What’s needed is as in Germany, where furlough has been continued into next year, when a fresh start can be made. Adding insult to outrage has been the failure to extend support north of the Border. Funds rightly being provided in locked down northern England must be passed on here.

Much coverage from Parliament last week was on an apparent insult yelled. Yet it’s the substance of the debate that’s most critical. With unemployment, poverty will worsen. Children are already going hungry, which is shameful for a developed country in the 21st century. Providing free school meals during term and outwith is vital.

There’s more to be done in Scotland but the situation in England is shameful. Thankfully, the young footballer Marcus Rashford has more humanity than the Tory Party. As someone who’s been involved in football disciplinary proceedings, I’ve met some errant players. But Marcus is a star on and off the pitch.