Chancellor to outline changes to furlough scheme

Retailers must start contributing to furlough bill from August
Chancellor Rishi Sunak (Image: PA Wires)
// Chancellor Rishi Sunak set to outline details of how much employers must contribute to furlough scheme for their staff
// The scheme was previously extended until the end of October, but the govt said it would only pay the 80% until July

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is set to tell employers they must contribute to their furloughed workers’ salaries from August as the government admitted the scheme cannot run “indefinitely”.

Sunak will use the daily Downing Street press conference to outline changes to the coronavirus job retention scheme, which has so far covered the wages of 8.4 million staff unable to work during lockdown – costing £15 billion.

Previously he extended the scheme until the end of October, but government would only cover 80 per cent of workers’ salaries up to £2500 per month until the end of July.


Details on how much of a contribution employers would need to make from August onwards have since been scant.

Treasury sources did not deny reports that the Chancellor would ask employers to contribute around 20 per cent of wages, as well as National Insurance and pension contributions from August.

Meanwhile Sunak is also facing calls, including from a cross-party group of 113 MPs, to extend the scheme supporting self-employed workers past Sunday or risk leaving many “without work and without support”.

It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a gradual easing of the lockdown in England, with friends and families able to meet in parks and gardens in socially distanced groups of six from Monday.

Johnson said all five of his tests to move into the next phase had been met, allowing schools to begin reopening and greater contact to be permitted from Monday.

Earlier this week he confirmed June 15 as the date for when non-essential retailers can reopen their bricks-and-mortar stores for customers again, provided they meet health and safety guidelines.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said people cannot be furloughed “indefinitely” and ways need to be found to get people safely back to work.

Asked on Sky News whether there will be continued support for the self-employed, he said: “Well obviously it is nearly a month ago now that we said we wanted to reopen those bits of the economy that couldn’t work from home, so we’ve been encouraging the construction industry, for instance, to get back to work.

“A lot of those self-employed professions such as plumbers, electricians and so on, those people are able to return to work now, albeit observing social distancing, but we need to try to start to get bits of the economy back to work.

“Now I don’t know what Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, will say later in terms of self-employed and the furlough scheme for them, but I think there is a general overarching message here that we’ve had a very generous furlough scheme in place to help people through these extraordinary times and to ensure that businesses’ overheads could be covered.”

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds called on the government to provide more financial support to the self-employed and those who will have to self-isolate under the new NHS Test and Trace system.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “There’s a worry about the specific self-employed support scheme just abruptly coming to an end but there is also the broader question of the support that people receive when they do stay at home.

“And the availability of statutory sick pay, we’ve debated previously the level of statutory sick pay.

“The Prime Minister and the Chancellor have both made promises that people should not lose out for doing the right thing, they have to be held to that promise in the weeks and months ahead.”

with PA Wires

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