The study’s findings suggest that vast swathes of heritage industry jobs could be lost if the furlough scheme is gradually wound down as planned from August.
The Committee is urging the Welsh Government to exert pressure on Westminster to extend the Job Retention Scheme beyond October, lowering the risk to thousands of jobs.
With around 80% of National Trust staff, 25% of The National Library of Wales staff and 40% of National Museum of Wales staff furloughed, the Committee fears that many of these employees will soon be at risk of redundancy if the current model goes unaltered.
“Our museums, archives and heritage sites are part of what makes Wales a great place to live and visit but Covid-19 and has put them at serious risk. Their income almost disappeared during lockdown and many staff were furloughed,” notes Helen Mary Jones, chair of the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee.
“Although the furlough scheme helped short term, with the prospect of this scheme coming to an end many organisations could be facing redundancies. Throughout this inquiry we have heard from a number of organisations that their commercial income is unlikely to reach pre-pandemic levels for many years. We are therefore once again calling for the Welsh Government to urge the UK Government Treasury to continue their furlough scheme beyond October 2020.”
Of the UK Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund, £59 million has been ringfenced for Welsh organisations. This and any additional support received must all be spent by the Welsh Government, the Committee asserts.
“Although we welcome the Welsh Government providing funding to support the sector,” Jones concludes, “it should use every penny at its disposal to help with this crisis.”
The impact of Covid-19 on heritage, museums and archives report can be read in full here.