Rishi Sunak extends UK’s COVID-19 job saving scheme to October

By: |
May 12, 2020 6:26 PM

As part of the extension, the furlough or forced leave scheme will be extended to include greater flexibility, allowing employees to bring furloughed employees back part-time.

"It is something that weighs heavily on my mind," he said.“It is something that weighs heavily on my mind,” he said. (File image)

UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Tuesday extended the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, in place to prevent forced redundancies during the lockdown in place to curb the pandemic, for a further four months until the end of October.

In a statement to the House of Commons, the Indian-origin finance minister said the scheme would be extended beyond the June-end deadline with more flexibility as the economy gradually begins to open up over the coming weeks.

“We are doing everything we can to protect those who are unable to work,” he said, as he revealed that the scheme has already helped 1 million businesses support 7.5 million jobs through the crisis.

Sunak said the scheme will remain in place to support more people as he continues conversations around helping people get back to work who may lose their jobs.

“It is something that weighs heavily on my mind,” he said.

As part of the extension, the furlough or forced leave scheme will be extended to include greater flexibility, allowing employees to bring furloughed employees back part-time.

While, workers will continue to receive the same level of income support from the government, at 80 per cent of their current salary, businesses will also be asked to share some of the financial burden.

Until the end of July, there will be no changes to the scheme but some changes will be phased in from August.

Sunak explained: “From August to October the scheme will continue, for all sectors and regions of the UK, but with greater flexibility to support the transition back to work. Employers currently using the scheme will be able to bring furloughed employees back part-time.

“We will ask employers to start sharing, with the government, the costs of paying people’s salaries.”

Sunak had pledged that there would be no “cliff-edge” cut-off of the scheme, which is aimed at preventing an estimated 1.2 million redundancies.

The government believes some companies such as retailers are unlikely to need all of their staff when they first reopen, because social distancing rules mean shops will have to be less crowded.

Therefore a part-time furloughing scheme is designed to allow companies to bring back more staff on a rota and prevent steep cuts.

“I think that the furloughing scheme has been one of the most remarkable features of the government’s response,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

“It is unlike anything seen internationally… It is absolutely right that we should do it. One of the most salient and important features of this country’s response to this crisis so far is that we have looked after some of the lowest paid people in our society – the hardest -working people – and we will continue to do so,” he said.

The UK has reported over 32,000 coronavirus-related deaths and 224,000 confirmed cases of infections, making it the second worst-hit country after the US.

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