- co-chaired by the Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom and Work and Pensions Secretary Thérèse Coffey
- ministers joined by the Official Receiver, local MPs and civic leaders, unions, trade associations and representatives from the travel industry
The National Taskforce for Thomas Cook met yesterday (Thursday 26 September) to discuss support being provided to former employees and to the local communities most affected by the impact of the company going into liquidation on Monday.
The meeting was jointly chaired by the Business Secretary and the Work and Pensions Secretary Thérèse Coffey and attended by national and local stakeholders including Transport Minister Paul Maynard, Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth Minister Jake Berry and Tourism Minister Helen Whately.
Also, in attendance were representatives from the devolved administrations, the Insolvency Service and special managers representing the Official Receiver, and Metro Mayor James Palmer, Local Enterprise Partnership Chairs, local MPs, Union representatives and representatives from the CBI and British Chambers of Commerce.
Plans to launch the special taskforce were announced by the Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom on Monday. The taskforce will meet on a weekly or bi-weekly basis initially and will consider support available for employees looking for new opportunities, for apprentices looking to continue their training, for employees returning from abroad, and for individuals and families needing access to benefits.
It will also review recovery for local communities including Peterborough, where the firm has its retail headquarters, and Greater Manchester, where many employees were based, exploring backing for local businesses and high streets through discussions with local growth hubs and authorities.
Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom said:
I want to thank the 9,000 UK employees of Thomas Cook for their professionalism at this hugely difficult time, and I want them to know that government is working hard to support them - be that through finding new job opportunities, retraining and by urging banks to be sympathetic to those waiting for redundancy payments.
The National Taskforce will keep employee welfare front-of-mind while ensuring the impact on local businesses is minimised.
Work and Pensions Secretary Thérèse Coffey said:
We’ve seen the huge dedication and professionalism of Thomas Cook employees this week and working together across government and industry we will help them through this difficult period.
Our national network of 630 Jobcentres and dedicated local work coaches are already taking action to support them. This taskforce will build on DWP’s Rapid Response Service, which is reaching out to employers, unions and trade bodies to identify opportunities for affected staff.
Establishing the National Taskforce is part of a package of measures that government has announced to support employees, customers and local businesses. Other activity includes a dedicated page and helpline to advise on rights and protections.
The Business Secretary has also written to the Insolvency Service to ask them to prioritise and fast-track their investigation into the circumstances surrounding Thomas Cook going into administration, including the conduct of the directors.
Government has been working around the clock to support all those affected, having launched the biggest ever peacetime repatriation effort ever seen in the UK.
The 150,000 customers who were abroad and due to return to the UK over the next 2 weeks are being brought home free of charge - as close as possible to their booked return date. So far, 95% of people who have been flown back have returned on their original date of departure at the end of their holiday.