Following Boris Johnson’s speech last night detailing the first “careful steps” being taken to ease lockdown, ministers are now examining how to wean Britain off furloughing. The scheme, which Chancellor Rishi Sunak has already extended until the end of June, pays 80 percent of employees’ wages up to £2,500 a month to save them being laid off during the coronavirus crisis. When the scheme opened at 8am on Monday, April 20, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) said claims covering 67,000 employees had been made in the first 30 minutes of the portal opening.
Changes to the scheme are expected to be announced tomorrow by Mr Sunak, with the state continuing to bankroll wages until the end of September, albeit at a reduced rate of 60 percent.
This forms part of Boris Johnson’s “careful steps” to ease the coronavirus lockdown, as the Government is eager to get staff back to work.
According to Jonathan Portes, Professor of Economics and Public Policy at King’s College London, tomorrow’s speech will be one of the biggest tests for the Chancellor and could be an almost impossible challenge.
He told Express.co.uk: “In a crisis like this, regardless of what is happening in the Treasury and Number 10, the two have to work together.
“It is an emergency.
“The real test will be as we come out of this – when there are more politically contentious decisions to take.”
He added: “For example, the furlough scheme was a big bold right thing to do.
“But in some sense, once you identify what the problem is, that is the obvious thing to do.
“How you withdraw it, of course it needs to be withdrawn at some point, is so much more difficult.
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