NEWS13 May 2020

Government furlough scheme extended

Covid-19 News UK

UK – The government has extended the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme until the end of October 2020, with ‘more flexibility’ to be introduced from August.

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The furlough scheme allows employers to claim a cash grant to pay up to 80% of the wages of employees who cannot work due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The chancellor of the exchequer, Rishi Sunak, announced yesterday ( 12th May) that it would be extended for another four months and confirmed workers would continue to receive 80% of their monthly pay, up to £2,500.

From the start of August, the government will change the scheme to allow furloughed workers being able to return to work part-time, with employers asked to pay a percentage towards the salaries of furloughed staff.

Further details of what this will involve are set to be announced until the end of May, however the government said employers’ payments will substitute the contribution it is currently making.

The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, said in a statement: "I’ve been clear that I want to avoid a cliff edge and get people back to work in a measured way."

He added that the extension and changes would give "flexibility to businesses" as well as "protecting the livelihoods of the British people and our future economic prospects".

Jane Frost, chief executive of MRS, said: "Recovery from the current crisis will be slow for the research sector, and we welcome the extension of the furlough scheme as recognition that business in general is going to have a long haul back to health."

However, Frost added: "The government now must recognise that face-to-face research faces similar challenges to hospitality and leisure, and extend the assistance those sectors are receiving to ours. That recognition would help ease the post-code lottery some agencies are experiencing in council decision making, for example."

Stephen Woodford, chief executive of the Advertising Assocation, said the extension of the scheme would "help the thousands of companies in the UK’s advertising and marketing services sectors as they cope with the great economic uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 crisis".  

Woodford added: "We also need to be certain that our workplaces are safe for all to return to. It is brilliant to see trade bodies like the Advertising Producers Association already publishing Covid-19 guidelines on how to manage a shoot to minimise risks – we expect more sector-specific guidance from different trade bodies across the industry as the days and weeks progress."