Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced that the government’s job retention (furlough) scheme will continue to run until October, under new plans to support UK firms in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Terms will remain unchanged until August, with the government paying furloughed workers 80% of their monthly salary up to a limit of £2500, but companies will then be asked to “start sharing” the cost of the scheme. It remains unclear how the payments will be divided between the government and employers at this stage.
Firms will also be able to bring back furloughed workers on a part-time basis from August, as part of a move to make the scheme more flexible as lockdown measures begin to be relaxed and the country returns gradually to normality.
According to the BBC, the furlough scheme has already cost the UK government £10bn, and this latest move will increase the final bill several times over, but until the government clarifies what level of contribution employers need to make, it’s impossible to predict what the economic impact could be.
Speaking in Commons today, Sunak said: “I’m extending the scheme because I won’t give up on the people who rely on it.
“Our message today is simple: we stood behind Britain’s workers and businesses as we came into this crisis, and we will stand behind them as we come through the other side.”