Chancellor Rishi Sunak, speaking on his 40th birthday, has announced a four-month extension of the workers’ leave arrangement, as the British death toll related to Covid-19 exceeded 40,000.
The scheme, which pays 80 percent of the salary of people unable to work, will be extended until the end of October, with the scheme running through August with “greater flexibility” from August to October.
Mr Sunak announced the extension until October and said, “By then we have provided eight months of support to UK citizens and businesses. Until the end of July, there will be no change in the scheme.”
Conferred employees can return to work part-time after the end of July, with employers paying part of their salary.
Mr. Sunak continues: “Nothing will change until the end of July.
“The scheme then runs from August to October for all sectors and regions of the UK, but with more flexibility to support the transition to work.
“Employers currently using the scheme can return redundant workers part-time.
And we will ask employers to start sharing the cost of paying people’s salaries with the government.
“All details will follow at the end of May.”
Mr. Sunak told the Commons: “Full details will follow at the end of May, but I want to assure people today of one thing that will not change. Employees will continue to receive the same level of general support as they do now through the joint efforts of the government and employers, namely 80% of their current salary to £ 2,500 per month.
“I am expanding the scheme because I will not give up on the people who rely on it. Our message today is simple: we were behind British workers and companies when we entered this crisis, and we will be behind them as we move on come the other way. “
Mr. Sunak said, “This government’s plan is one of the most comprehensive in the world,” adding, “We believe in the dignity of work.”
The Jobs Retention Scheme – which he called a leading intervention – has saved up to a million businesses, according to Mr. Sunak.
He said, “7.5 million jobs have been lost, jobs that would have been lost had we not acted.”
While making his statement to MPs in the Commons, the Chancellor’s Twitter account posted: “1 / The job preservation scheme will be extended by four months until the end of October.
“At that time, we provided eight months of support to British people and businesses. Nothing will change about the scheme until the end of July.
“2 / The scheme will continue from August to October, covering all sectors and regions of the UK, but with more flexibility to support the transition to work.
“Employers currently using the scheme can return redundant workers part-time.
“3 / We will ask employers to start sharing the cost of paying people’s salaries with the government.
“4 / Further details will follow at the end of May, but I want to assure people that one thing will not change:
“Employees will continue to receive the same level of support as now, thanks to the joint efforts of government and employers, at 80% of their salary, up to £ 2,500.”
Rishi Sunak told MPs that he has been talking to the TUC and CBI about the future of helping people get back to work, and he says to the Commons, “It’s something that’s hard on me – anyone who has his job lose because of this difficult period is a person that this government is firmly behind. ‘
He said this could include providing training or helping companies create new jobs.
The Trades Union Congress welcomed the move that tweeted, “The government has listened to unions and extended job preservation through fall.
“The government will still pay 80% of the wages and has changed the rules to support short work, which is essential for a gradual, safe return to work.
“A great relief for millions of working families.”
Mr Sunak had previously said that he is preparing to “wean” workers and companies from the program – which was originally due to run until the end of June – but an extension was called for.
The program is said to continue until September, although the aid rate would be reduced from a maximum of 80% of salary to 60%.
Lord Mervyn King, former Governor of the Bank of England, said on Tuesday that the Chancellor should not reverse the leave arrangement until the economy has recovered further.
Lord King told BBC Radio 4’s BBC Today program: “The real costs of this shutdown are not measured by the impact on public finances, but by the lost revenue and output in the economy, a price likely to be in the order of size will end (although no one can really know) several hundred billion pounds. “
Mr Hancock said on Tuesday that there would be no ‘cliff edge’ for the leave program, and agreed that it would somehow decrease.
He also confirmed that the contact tracking app being tried out on the Isle of Wight would now roll out in England over the next week.
He told Sky News, “We’ll be rolled out in mid-May. The Isle of Wight project has been going well so far, we’ve learned a lot about how the app works.
“We are happy with the progress and will bring it in.”
Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds said many were baffled by comments attributed to government officials suggesting that people should be “weaned from addiction” to the leave program.
She said she had only heard about the chancellor’s changes in the last few seconds and will examine them “very, very carefully.”
Ms Dodds said that people do not want to be spun off, adding in the Commons, “It is critical that they not be disadvantaged for that choice. We welcome the said flexibility, we have repeatedly asked for it.”
Mr. Sunak replied, “Using the word” addiction “is not something I have ever used and I do not agree with.
“No one on leave wants to participate in this arrangement. People all over the country believe in the dignity of work, going to work, looking after their families, it is not their fault that their company was asked to close or stay at home.
“That’s why I started this plan to support these people and their livelihood at this critical time.”
Rishi Sunak insisted that the leave on the leave schedule should not be reduced.
SNP spokeswoman Alison Thewliss said, “He acknowledges (Mr Sunak) that dropping or lowering wage support levels in the leave plan early would increase Universal Credit’s claims, forcing employees to return to work before is safe for them and risks a second peak? “
Mr. Sunak replied, “To be clear, there will be no reduction in the level of support for those participating in the scheme.”
He added, “It is abundantly clear that program participants have that reassurance – the level of support they receive will not change.”
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady, commenting on the extension of the government’s leave scheme, said: “We are delighted that ministers have listened to unions and extended the job retention scheme until autumn. This will be a great relief to millions.
“Changing the rules to enable part-time work is key to a gradual and safe return to work. And maintaining the rate at 80% is a win for the pay packages of working families.
“As the economic implications of Covid-19 become apparent, unions will continue to push for a job guarantee scheme to ensure that everyone has a decent job.”
Alison Thewliss, Treasury spokeswoman, urged the Chancellor to maintain the job-preservation arrangements in the decentralized countries if they maintained the shutdown outside England.
She told the Commons: “The Scottish government has made it clear that the advice to” stay at home “has not changed, so he (Mr Sunak) will commit today to ensure that the job retention system in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland remains in effect if our lockdowns last longer than England? “
Mr Sunak replied: “This is now a four month extension until the end of October which will provide a total of eight months for all regions and all sectors of the UK and in my opinion offers a very good and generous runway for companies and companies to plan. “
Edwin Morgan, director of policy at the Institute of Directors business group, said plans for part-time government returns are welcome.
He added: “Part-time leave provides a much needed starting ramp so companies can get back to work. A more flexible approach allows companies to increase activity levels along with demand, helping to avoid cash flow challenges.
“We now need more clarity on employer contributions. Many companies that would normally be strong are still in a difficult situation. The extension puts even more emphasis on helping those left in the cold. Numerous directors small businesses have found little support and the government should not close their eyes. “