His warning, in a newspaper interview yesterday, comes ahead of Chancellor Rishi Sunak announcing new measures to encourage growth in a major Commons statement next week. “I’ve got to be very, very blunt with you – we’ve spent £120 billion supporting people, it’s a huge commitment and we have put our arms around people. The best way forward for us now is to work together to beat the virus and get the economy back on its feet.
“We’re going to do amazing things – we’re going to build, build, build, invest massively in our country.
“But I think people need to recognise that the particular restrictions that furlough places on you are not, in the long term, healthy either for the economy or for you as an employee,” the Prime Minister said.
Insisting the Job Retention Scheme will close at the end of October, he added: “You are keeping people in suspended animation. You are stopping them from actually working. I am being absolutely frank with you, we are pushing it out until October but in the end you have got to get the economy moving.”
More than nine million employees in over a million firms are currently being paid by taxpayers because they have been unable to work during the lockdown.
By the end of last month, the scheme had cost £25.5billion.
Mr Johnson promised the Government would do everything possible to protect jobs in the coming months.
“You’ve got to act with great urgency, and you’ve got to plan,” he said. “People are very worried about their jobs, we are unfortunately starting to see job losses.”
Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak will today face demands from Labour for an emergency “back-to-work” budget to support the economy through the end of the lockdown.