UK extends COVID job retention scheme by 4 months

Wednesday, 13 May 2020 02:27 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

LONDON (Reuters): Britain extended its job retention scheme – the costly centrepiece of its attempts to mitigate the coronavirus hit to the economy – by four more months on Tuesday but told employers they would have to help meet the cost before long.

Finance minister Rishi Sunak told parliament there would be no changes to the scheme, which currently pays 80% of the wages of 7.5 million workers who are temporarily laid off, until the end of July.

From August, the scheme would continue with greater flexibility to support the transition back to work, allowing employers who are currently using the scheme to bring furloughed employees back part-time.

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

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is expected to reduce a rise in unemployment in Britain. But at about 10 billion pounds a month, its cost is approaching the amount of money Britain spends on its public health services.

Sunak has previously said such levels of spending are unsustainable.

An employers’ group said the inclusion of part-time working in the furlough scheme would help companies get back up to speed but said it needed more information on how companies would be asked to make contributions.

“Many firms that would normally/ be on strong footing are still in dire straits,” Edwin Morgan, director of policy at the Institute of Directors, said.

Sunak said he would provide further details on the scheme by the end of May.


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