The Government has announced that it will extend the furlough scheme until October and that, from August, people will be able to work reduced hours and have their income topped up through the scheme.
The Government has announced that the furlough scheme will be extended by another four months to the end of October, with workers continuing to receive 80% of their current salary.
From the start of August, furloughed workers will also be able to return to work part time with employers being asked to pay a percentage towards the salaries of their furloughed staff.
The employer payments will substitute the contribution the government is currently making, ensuring that staff continue to receive 80% of their salary, up to £2,500 a month.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “Our Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has protected millions of jobs and businesses across the UK during the outbreak – and I’ve been clear that I want to avoid a cliff edge and get people back to work in a measured way.
“This extension and the changes we are making to the scheme will give flexibility to businesses while protecting the livelihoods of the British people and our future economic prospects.”
New statistics published by the Government today show the job retention scheme has protected 7.5 million workers and almost 1 million businesses.
The scheme will continue in its current form until the end of July and the changes to allow more flexibility will come in from the start of August. More specific details and information around its implementation will be made available by the end of this month.
The Government says it will explore ways through which furloughed workers who wish to do additional training or learn new skills are supported during this period.
The furlough scheme will cost £40bn for every three months it runs, according to the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR).
Meanwhile, hundreds of employers who have furloughed workers amid the Covid-19 outbreak had not received money through the job retention scheme by 28th April – eight days after the scheme opened saying payment would be received within six days, according to a poll of more than 900 firms commissioned by comparison website nerdwallet.com/uk/. The survey found that nearly half of UK firms have furloughed staff, but 71% had not received support as of 28th April. It also found that 47% of businesses in London having been forced to lay off staff, in comparison to a national average of 26%. Redundancies have been most common in businesses aged 7–10 years (59%), with younger businesses (40%) and especially older businesses (16%) nowhere near as severely affected.
With regard to business support, the survey shows only 40% of businesses have applied for a loan through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme [CBILS], and just 45% have applied for any of the other state-backed emergency loans or grants. However, for small businesses the figure for applications falls to 35%, with just 10% of microbusinesses having applied, compared with 58% of large businesses. Some 27% of businesses that successfully applied for the CBILS are yet to receive their funds, but small businesses (44%) and microbusinesses (39%) appear to be most affected by delays in distribution.
Other financial schemes for businesses include the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme and the Future Fund. The Government says it has delivered 268,000 Bounce Back Loans worth £8.3 billion, 36,000 loans worth over £6 billion through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and £359 million through the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme.