More Than 6m UK Workers Furloughed As Job Retention Scheme Cost Hits £8bn

Some 1.8 million people have also claimed universal credit.

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UK businesses have applied for 6.3 million workers to be furloughed since the start of the coronavirus outbreak.

Government figures showed applications worth around £8 billion had been made as of May 3.

Under the scheme – due to run until the end of June – the government pays 80% of wages of workers laid off because of the current crisis, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.

The temporary scheme has not prevented redundancies entirely, however.

Separate figures released on Monday show that since the crisis began more than 1.8 million people have also claimed universal credit, the main welfare benefit for jobseekers and the low-paid.

Questions have been raised over the future of the scheme as the government plans a route to get the country back to work, with fears many firms will not have the cashflow to pay employees’ full salaries when the lockdown measures are eased and workers are able to return to work, and may instead opt for redundancy.

On Monday, chancellor Rishi Sunak said he will taper the scheme to avoid any “cliff edge” that hurts business.

He told ITV News: “To anyone who’s anxious about this I want to give them reassurance today that there will be no cliff edge to the furlough scheme. I am working as we speak to figure out the most effective way to wind down the scheme and ease people back into work in a measured way.”


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