UK Government to extend and increase flexibility of furlough scheme
The Job retention scheme (JRS) will be extended to October with new measures to improve flexibility from August.
Workers using the scheme, known as furloughed workers, will continue to receive 80% of their current salary, up to £2,500 per month. From August new flexibility will be introduced to allow employees to return to work while still accessing some of the benefits of the scheme.
Statistics published by the Government today show that the JRS has been used by 7.5 million workers and almost 1 million businesses since it was first introduced in March.
In a statement in the House of Commons the Chancellor confirmed that the scheme will continue in its current form until the end of July, and from August changes to allow more flexibility will be introduced. More specific details and information around what flexibility will be included and how it will be implementation will be announced by the end of May.
As part of this extension of the scheme the Government will also explore ways to enable furloughed workers who wish to do additional training or learn new skills to do so. techUK has been engaging closely with the Government to examine how retraining and upskilling can be integrated into the Government’s support packages. This will be hugely important for the UK’s economic recovery and it was good to see the Chancellor recognise this in his statement.
Further statistics published by the Government today have shown that businesses have access over £14 billion in loans and guarantees to support their cashflow during the crisis. This includes 268,000 Bounce Back Loans worth £8.3 billion, 36,000 loans worth over £6 billion through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), and £359 million through the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS).
Two further schemes aimed at supporting the tech sector, the Future Fund and Innovation UK grants and loans, are due to begin this month.
The extension of the furlough scheme is welcome. At the point of its introduction the scheme demonstrated that the Government was willing to back British workers and companies as they weather the economic crisis brought on by COVID-19.
As the UK begins to ease its lockdown restrictions and look at how we can begin moving slowly toward a new normal it’s vital that these schemes adapt to continue to support businesses and workers. Encouraging a reopening of the economy that meets the requirements of public health guidelines.
The Government must move carefully here, however the data collected by the JRS scheme and continued conversations with business and employee representatives will help guide this response.
techUK continues to engage with the Government on the application of the JRS as well as its other economic support measures.
We will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available, so please regularly check techUK’s COVID-19 information hub.
The team remain ready and available to assist and support both members and non-members alike. For any specific queries, please write in to our dedicated inbox.
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