The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), which is commonly known as the furlough scheme, was first announced on Friday 20 March and currently means employers can claim for payments that cover 80% of furloughed employees’ wages, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.
Sunak announced he was extending the scheme – which was originally open for three months and backdated from 1 March until the end of May – to the end of June.
However, he then (12 May) revealed it would be extended by a further four months to the end of October but, did not clarify exactly what the scheme would look like.
Level of support
He tweeted: “From August to October, the scheme will continue for all sectors and regions of the UK but with greater flexibility to support the transit back to work.
“Employers currently using the scheme will be able to bring furloughed employees back part time.”
The Chancellor went on to say employers and businesses will be asked to begin sharing the cost of people’s salaries with the Government.
He added: “But I want to assure people one thing won’t change. Workers will, through the combined efforts of Government and employers, continue to receive the same level of support as they do now, at 80% of their salary, up to £2,500.”
This was met with cautious optimism from trade bodies, alongside calls for flexibility to allow pubs to reopen.
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls called the scheme extension a “sensible, positive and timely move” but said increased flexibility for hospitality will be vital.
British Beer & Pub Association boss Emma McClarkin said the extension was particularly important to the pub and brewery staff because they would not be able to return to their work as quickly as other sectors.
Sunak tweeted yesterday (Tuesday 26 May) that he had spoken with people who had used the furlough scheme.
He said: “I listened to business owners, fighting to stay open and employees raring to return. This week, we’ll launch phase two: flexible furloughing, which I hope will help get us back up and running.”
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