Furlough: Millions of jobs at risk as scheme comes to end

As the furlough scheme comes to an end, fears are growing of the millions of jobs that are expected to be lost.

The government’s benefits system is estimating an additional four million people to be unemployed as furlough ends and the UK braces itself for a second-wave of the Coronavirus.

Therese Coffey, the work and pensions secretary, told Sky News: “I think we’re in a number similar in terms of being ready to help people and trying to help them get back to work as quickly as possible.”

“We’re bringing people into the organisation and in a COVID safe way in order to respond to the challenge.

“I genuinely hope we don’t reach, obviously, that figure. But it’s important we are ready to help people,” she added.

It is clearly a critical time for employers, who are facing difficult trading conditions amid the pandemic.

“As the Jobs Support Scheme replaces the furlough scheme, and employers are asked to pay more towards staffing costs, the government must stand ready to offer further support to businesses who may be unable to cover their contribution due to continued restrictions and reduced demand,” said Claire Walker, the co-executive director of The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).

Since March, the number of people who applied for Universal Credit grew by 120% to 2.7 million. Joblessness is expected to rise in the coming months, with the Office of Budget Responsibility’s (OBR) unemployment to rise to 13.2% by next year.

The furlough scheme will be replaced by the German-style wage subsidy plan.

“We’ve never promised we could save every single job or every single company,” said Coffey.

“We will do our best to try and help businesses keep going. But we have reached a point where we absolutely recognise we cannot pretend, we’ve never pretended, we can save every job.”