Positivity Please!

I wanted to start with some headlines that made the papers this week. In the UK there was “There goes Christmas”, “Christmas to bring little cheer”, PM fears threat to Christmas”. Even here the Majorca Daily Bulletin had the headline “Christmas On Hold”(Sorry Ed!). Now haven’t we been through enough this year without the threat of no Christmas? There’s still 103 sleeps to go, so surely those headlines can wait a little? I’m a glass half full person, so a bit more positivity please media people! 
Two words have made there way into the English language in the past 6 months. Back in the UK it’s furlough and over here it’s ERTE, pronounced Airtay or as most ex-pats call it Errtea. Actually make that three as I just found out that in Mallorquín it’s pronounced Airtoe! Didn’t he play up front for Mallorca and Barcelona? Last week in the UK there were reports of over payment in the furlough scheme. Up to £3.5 billion of furlough money may have been paid out in wrong or fraudulent claims, according to official estimates from the government. HMRC has calculated that between 5% and 10% of payments have been wrongly calculated, possibly as a result of employers abusing the scheme. The total bill for the job retention programme, which has paid 80% of the wages of workers placed on leave due to coronavirus, currently stands at more than £35 billion. 
There is a similar situation here in the Balearics where we find out this week that around 12 million euros has been wrongly paid out to workers here. Now I know a little bit more about the scheme here than the UK so let me comment. Firstly in both cases this money was paid out so there wasn’t a total collapse of the jobs market in both countries. Rishi Sunak was rightly praised for the UK scheme and always came across well in interviews. Over here we have more experience in this as our tourism industry is seasonal, so most people will work May to October. Which means in the winter the Government pays something called “el Paro”, basically unemployment benefit. To keep the workforce on the island ready for the following season. To receive it, you’ll need to have made social security contributions for at least a year (defined as 360 days). This contribution period allows you to receive the benefit for four months (120 days). During this time, you’ll need to give evidence that you’re actively trying to find a job.You can claim unemployment benefit in the following instances:Your work contract comes to an end and your employer decides not to renew it.
You get sacked from your position.Your employer reduces your hours by more than a third. How much you’ll receive in unemployment benefit depends on what you’ve been earning in Spain. Calculations are based on the average salary from which you’ve been making contributions for the six months before becoming unemployed. Theoretically, you can receive 70% of that average for 180 days, then 50% thereafter, though limits are in place. So with that experience you would have thought that although we are talking much higher numbers with the ERTE the system should be able to cope? The problem was that it didn’t. They had to bring a load of people to help who basically didn’t know what they were doing. You’d have thought that the one of the only entities actually looking for people at that time would have employed people who actually knew what they were doing? Which I believe has led to the mistakes. I know of people that haven’t received any money yet and I’ll be honest I couldn’t really tell you if I’d been overpaid or underpaid as the formula doesn’t seem to match what I’ve been told. If you’re a company or an individual, try to speak to someone who can help you, it’s impossible. It’s like entering the secret service and if you do manage to get through then good luck explaining your problem. If people have been blatantly scamming the system then they should be made to pay the money back but I think in most cases the mistakes have come from the department that sorts it all out. I’ll give two personal examples of how the system just isn’t working. We sold our flat in Son Caliu 15 years ago and yet I am still registered as living there as my entitlement for the ERTE was sent there. We’ve told them countless times but they don’t update the system. This week at Pirates we had to send proof of the fact that we were not open. I promise you this is no lie. It makes you wonder doesn’t it. Today is September 12th and people who like me are on a year round contract, still do not know if the ERTE will be extended. The current deal is to the end of this month and at a meeting held last Friday there was still no agreement. It’s going to be a tough winter for a lot of people and for most the ERTE is a lifeline. There’s talk of mixing ERTE and PARO, don’t ask, I didn’t! But something needs to be done to help businesses and people. 
Nothing will be better than a Christmas and a season to look forward to next year. 
Take care everyone and enjoy your weekend! Richie presents the Radio One Mallorca Breakfast show Monday to Friday 07.30-11.00am on 93.8fm in Mallorca and 102fm in Calvià, online at www.radioonemallorca.com on mobile through their free App for IPhone & Android, The Tunein Radio App, iTunes, the Spanish TDT TV service and all smart speakers. If you can’t hear him on the radio then you’ll find him working at Pirates Adventure the islands number one night out and every now and again he may make an understudy appearance! Follow him on Twitter @DadTaxi1 & Instagram @dad.taxi or feel free to email him at rprior@globobalear.com

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