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UK unveils plan to wind down furlough scheme

Christian Fernsby ▼ | May 30, 2020
British Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced the plan to wind down the coronavirus furlough scheme as Britain seeks to reopen its economy.
Rishi Sunak
Chancellor   Rishi Sunak
Charing the Downing Street's daily briefing, Sunak unveiled a series of changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which he said has so far covered the wages of 8.4 million staff unable to work during lockdown.

"As we reopen the economy, there is broad consensus across the political and economic spectrum, the furlough scheme cannot continue indefinitely," he told reporters.

According to Sunak, employers will be asked to contribute, alongside the taxpayers, to pay the wages of their staff. In August, the taxpayer contribution will stay at 80 percent. Employers will only be asked to pay National Insurance and employer pension contributions.

Employers will be asked to pay 10 percent of people's wages in September and 20 percent in October respectively, said the chancellor.

Back in March, Sunak launched the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, under which the government covers 80 percent of wages for employees who are unable to work due to coronavirus pandemic, up to 2,500 pounds (about 3,076 U.S. dollars) a month.

During the briefing, Sunak also extended the Self-employment Income Support Scheme, which has so far seen 2.3 million claims.

Applications will open in August for a second and final grant, which will be paid out in a single instalment, covering three months' worth of average monthly trading profits, said the chancellor.

But despite the government's intervention to protect as many jobs as possible, it can't protect every job, he noted.

Despite the collective effort to reopen the country, Sunak warned that "not everything will look the same as before."

"It won't be the case that we can simply put the key in the lock, open the door and step into the world as it was in January," he added.

Another 324 COVID-19 patients have died in Britain as of Thursday afternoon, bringing the total coronavirus-related death toll in the country to 38,161, according to Sunak.

The figures include deaths in all settings, including hospitals, care homes and the wider community.

As of Friday morning, 271,222 people have tested positive in Britain, said Sunak.