Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced an extension of the furlough scheme to run for six months from November – but it is a scheme with a difference.
Instead of offering support across the board, the Chancellor has made it clear that it will only support ‘viable jobs’ in those businesses forced to shut for legal reasons during the pandemic.
Speaking in the House Of Commons he said: “The furlough was the right policy at the time we introduced it, but it is fundamentally wrong to hold people in jobs that only exist inside the furlough.
“We need to create new opportunities and allow the economy to move forward and that means to support people being in viable jobs which provide genuine security.”
Under the new scheme employers will only qualify for the grant while they are subject to restrictions forcing them to close their doors.
As soon as the doors re-open the support will cease.
The government pay grants to cover two thirds of the salary of any employee being off work for a minimum for seven consecutive days with the firm only being required to cover pension contributions and National Insurance.
The Chancellor said: “Throughout the crisis the driving force of our economic policy has not changed.
I have always said that we will do whatever is necessary to protect jobs and livelihoods as the situation evolves.
“The expansion of the Job Support Scheme will provide a safety net for businesses across the UK who are required to temporarily close their doors, giving them the right support at the right time.”
Support will also continue for worker currently on the old furlough scheme who are only able to work part time for their employers because of reduced demand.
They must work at least a third of third normal hours and then government and employer will each pay a third of the hours not worked and the employee will keep their job.
In separate news, unemployment has soared to its highest level in over three years with redundancies rising to their highest level since 2009, according to the latest government figures.
Jonathan Athow of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said: “Overall employment is down about half a million since the pandemic began and there are particular groups who seem to be most affected, young people in particular
“Of those out of work, about 300,000 are aged 16-24, about 60% of the fall in employment… that’s really disproportionate.”
He added that a large number of redundancies had come from sectors like hospitality, travel and recruitment.