Rishi Sunak has released a very stylised, and dramatic, video dedicated to his largest scheme – furlough.
But as his furlough scheme is set to end at the end of this month, Sunak has clearly decided to honour the landmark – even though it’s likely to trigger a rise in unemployment figures by around 150,000.
The five and a half minute video includes many cameos of Sunak himself, footage of his aides looking nervous and explaining their fears surrounding the scheme, with brief interviews from the employers who benefited from the scheme.
It’s all accompanied by emotive, action-movie style music usually found in Hollywood blockbusters.
With slowed-down footage, black and white filters over Sunak’s first announcement, and many, many, musical crescendos, there is no doubt this was intended to be a moment of cinema.
As seen in the video, many businesses were grateful that the scheme allowed them to keep their heads above water and prevented many from falling into poverty.
One businesswoman tells the video: “I remember we all sat braced, waiting for the Chancellor’s announcement.”
The clip includes appearances from Sunak’s team as well. One aide explained how there were concerns no-one would know what furlough is, only for him to reply: “Oh, they will.”
How did furlough affect the UK?
To be fair to the chancellor, the furlough scheme gave workers 80% of their regular salaries throughout the pandemic during the successive Covid lockdowns.
The historic scheme did allow companies to keep hold of their employees even if they were struggling in the pandemic. Employers then had to top up part of their workers’ wages from July 1 2021 onwards.
The furlough scheme has cost £68.5 billion and protected more than 11.6 million jobs throughout the pandemic – the Treasury stated this equates to more than a third of the UK’s workforce.
It was the largest government intervention ever by some margin.
Sunak isn’t the only one
Politicians are experimenting with their social media at the moment, it seems.
On Saturday, former health secretary Matt Hancock released a video of himself meeting and greeting his own constituents – only to be brutally ridiculed for embodying the satirical character, Alan Partridge.
He then deleted it on Monday.
Prime minister Boris Johnson also briefly got into posting selfie videos during lockdown.
Sunak has also developed a reputation for his exceptionally polished PR, with many people making fun of the way he promotes himself when he has to unveil a new financial scheme.