Coronavirus: PM says 'massive package' of investment planned to support employment after the furlough scheme ends

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor 23rd September 2020

The UK government is considering a "massive package of investment in jobs and growth" to avoid mass unemployment when the job retention scheme comes to an end in its current form, the Prime Minister has said. 

Boris Johnson told the Commons in today's PMQs that while the furlough scheme as it stands will definitively come to an end  on November 1st, that the chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, is working on “creative and imaginative measures” to avoid a massive surge in unemployment when it does. 

According to the Financial Times, the Chancellor is considering at least two schemes, as well as taking note of what governments are doing in neighbouring European countries. Additionally, several individuals briefed on the issue reportedly said a number of options to subsidise workers wages are being looked at. 

One such scheme could be that devised by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), which proposes that the state cover some of the costs of an employee should their employer be able to offer them (and pay them for) at least 50 percent of their working hours.

For non-working hours, the company would pay a third, the Treasury would foot another third, and the employee would sacrifice the final third. 

This would allow the government to support businesses without keeping furloughed employees in so-called "suspended animation," as the chancellor believes an extension of the JRS would, and cost approximately £500 million a month, as compared to the £4bn a month incurred with furlough.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) proposes a similar scheme, the difference being that employees would receive between 80 and 100 percent of their non-working hour pay.

As the hospitality sector is likely to be one of the hardest hit by the end of the furlough scheme -  calls for an extension - or a suitable replacement - are increasingly widespread, especially with tougher restrictions affecting the industry. 

 

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Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor 23rd September 2020

Coronavirus: PM says 'massive package' of investment planned to support employment after the furlough scheme ends