A new Jobs Support Scheme is to be introduced across the UK to replace the furlough programme which has helped to pay the wages of millions of people during the coronavirus crisis.
The scheme should see employees who can’t currently work full-time receiving three quarters of their normal salaries for six months after the furlough initiative closes at the end of October.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the government’s plans as part of what is being referred to as a ‘Winter Economy Plan’, which includes a variety of measures being introduced because we now know the UK will spend at least the next six months dealing with Covid-induced restrictions.
Mr Sunak has said the Treasury will provide support directly to employers to help them cover the costs of wages for people who cannot currently work full time but whose employment they want to retain.
However, the chancellor also made clear that the government intends to “support only viable jobs” and not those jobs that would not otherwise exist without external financial support.
“The government will directly support the wages of people in work, giving businesses who face depressed demand the option of keeping employees in a job on shorter hours, rather than making them redundant,” he said.
Despite the chancellor deciding to extend the scope of direct support to businesses, it’s feared that the closing of the furlough scheme will nonetheless lead to very extensive job losses in Scotland and across the UK in the coming months.
Mr Sunak explained in his latest remarks: “The primary goal of our economic policy remains unchanged - to support people’s jobs - but the way we achieve that must evolve.
“I cannot save every business, I cannot save every job,” he said.
The new Jobs Support Scheme will be open to all small and medium-sized businesses, including those that did not previously use the furlough scheme.
The scheme is intended effectively to top up the pay of people who can work at least a third of their normal hours, with employers expected to cover the costs of those hours and the government then stepping in to provide its financial support for wages on top.
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