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Businesses must start paying towards the worker furlough scheme from August, Rishi Sunak announces

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 29/05/2020 Sophia Sleigh, Harriet Brewis
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Businesses must start paying towards the worker furlough scheme from August, Rishi Sunak has announced. At Friday's Downing Street briefing, the Chancellor set out the details of how employers will be expected to start paying the wages of furloughed workers.

Starting in August, employers will be asked to pick up National Insurance and pension contributions for employees. The government is currently paying 80 per cent of workers' salaries up to £2,500 a month for 8.4 million workers through its furlough scheme.

This will continue through June and July but, in the following months, businesses are going to be asked to contribute a share. From September, the Government will reduce the amount it pays workers to 70 per cent, capped at £2,190, while employers pick up the extra 10 per cent.

a man wearing a suit and tie © Provided by Evening Standard In October the Government will reduce their subsidy to 60 per cent of wages up to a cap of £1,875 while employers pick up the extra 20 per cent. After October, the scheme will close, Mr Sunak said.

Bosses will also be able to bring furloughed employees part time from July 1 – a month earlier than previously announced. Employers will be responsible for paying their employees’ wages while in work and it will be up to them to decide the hours and shift patterns. 

The Chancellor said: Our top priority has always been to support people, protect jobs and businesses through this crisis. The furlough and self-employment schemes have been a lifeline for millions of people and businesses.

A man wearing protective face mask walks past a closed Burberry shop in Regent Street in central London's main high street retail shopping area on May 29, 2020 ahead of some shops reopening from their coronavirus shutdown from next week. - The UK Prime Minister announced on May 28 that some English schools and shops would reopen from next week people would a little more freedom to meet others in public as he tried to plot Britain's path through a health disaster that has officially claimed 37,837 lives -- second only to the United States -- and devastated the economy. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images) © Getty A man wearing protective face mask walks past a closed Burberry shop in Regent Street in central London's main high street retail shopping area on May 29, 2020 ahead of some shops reopening from their coronavirus shutdown from next week. - The UK Prime Minister announced on May 28 that some English schools and shops would reopen from next week people would a little more freedom to meet others in public as he tried to plot Britain's path through a health disaster that has officially claimed 37,837 lives -- second only to the United States -- and devastated the economy. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images) “We stood behind Britain’s businesses and workers as we came into this crisis and we stand behind them as we come through the other side. “Now, as we begin to re-open our country and kickstart our economy, these schemes will adjust to ensure those who are able to work can do so, while remaining amongst the most generous in the world.”

Employers will be required to submit data on the usual hours an employee would be expected to work in a claim period and actual hours worked. Staff who believe they are not getting their 80 per cent share can report any concerns to the HMRC fraud hotline.

The Chancellor also revealed an extension to the self-employment support scheme so that workers can claim a second and final grant worth 70 per cent of their average monthly trading profits and capped at £6,570 in total.

Gallery: Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak around the UK (Photos)

Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds welcomed the extension, but said it was “concerning that there is no commitment within these plans for support to only be scaled back in step with the removal of lockdown”.

In other developments:

– The official UK death toll passed 38,000 with another 324 deaths confirmed overnight.

– British Transport Police said no further action was being taken over the death of Victoria Station worker Belly Mujinga who lost her life to coronavirus in April.

– Professor John Edmunds, who attends meetings of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), warned that ministers are “taking some risk” by relaxing lockdown measures while the number of new cases each day remains “relatively high”.

– Scientists advising the Government suggested only around half of people with coronavirus symptoms self-isolate for a week, raising concerns over the ability to prevent future outbreaks.

– Nearly 17,000 fines for alleged breaches of lockdown rules have been issued by police in England and Wales, according to figures from the National Police Chiefs’ Council.

Labour’s Ms Dodds said it was welcome that the Government has “heeded Labour’s calls for a more gradual introduction of the employer contribution to furlough, the introduction of flexibility within furlough to allow part-time working, and the extension of the self-employed scheme”.

She added: “However, it is concerning that there is no commitment within these plans for support to only be scaled back in step with the removal of lockdown. Nor is there any analysis of the impact on unemployment of a ‘one size fits all’ approach being adopted across all sectors.

Anneliese Dodds MP introducing former City financier Professor Avinash Persaud launches a new policy paper in London on modernising the UK's existing financial transactions tax (i.e. Robin Hood Tax) on July 18th 2017 in London, United Kingdom. Speaking on a panel with Labour's Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, who has adopted the paper's policy recommendations. (photo by Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images Images) © Mike Kemp Anneliese Dodds MP introducing former City financier Professor Avinash Persaud launches a new policy paper in London on modernising the UK's existing financial transactions tax (i.e. Robin Hood Tax) on July 18th 2017 in London, United Kingdom. Speaking on a panel with Labour's Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, who has adopted the paper's policy recommendations. (photo by Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images Images) “The Chancellor must publish the evidence behind these decisions to provide reassurance that his proposals won’t cause an additional spike in unemployment, and an even more difficult economic recovery from this crisis.”

Elsewhere, Downing Street said the Joint Biosecurity Centre which manages the coronavirus alert level is still not fully operational. The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “It’s carrying out some of its functions already, including giving support to the chief medical officers. It will be fully operational in the coming weeks.”

The alert level is currently coming down from four to three, he said.

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