Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has today promised that there will be no sudden cut-off to the government’s furlough scheme, which has been in place since the lockdown to support workers and businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures revealed that 6.3 million workers are currently having 80% of their salaries, up to a maximum of £2500 per month, paid by the Treasury. Today’s announcement from Sunak confirmed that so far the scheme has cost almost £8bn.
Sunak admitted that the current level of expenditure was not sustainable in the longer term. However, rather than bring it to a sudden end in June, Sunak said MPs were looking at ways to slowly close down the scheme.
He said: “To anyone anxious about this, I want to reassure that there will be no cliff-edge to the furlough scheme. I’m 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.
“As some scenarios have suggested, we are potentially spending as much on the furlough scheme as we do on the NHS for example. Clearly that is not a sustainable situation which is why, as soon as the time is right, we want to get people back to work and the economy fired up again.”