The Environment Secretary George Eustice has said on Friday it is time for people to come off furlough and “get back to work.”
He said that people cannot depend “indefinitely” on the state funding workers who are furloughed, and want the UKs battered economy to be revived.
Eustice said that many can now “return to work” observing social distancing.
The Chancellor Rishi Sunak said, “What we’ve got to do now is to kickstart the economy and help businesses kick on, so the extension of the support for a full eight months, and a modest contribution from employers, will help them ease back to a new normal.”
It was hoped that the Chancellor would have extended the scheme for self-employed people.
He was asked on Sky News it there would be an extension of support to those who are self-employed.
Eustice told Sky News, “A lot of those self-employed professions such as plumbers, electricians and so on … 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.”
In response to reported changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, IEA Editorial and Research Fellow Professor Len Shackleton said, “redundancies will come quickly’ after changes to furlough scheme.”
Professor Shackleton added, “Many businesses are going to find it hard to pay a proportion of wages (and associated NI contributions) if they are still prevented from opening, or have a business model which can’t accommodate 2-metre social distancing.
“At the moment most such businesses have very little income yet have continued outgoings on rents, electricity, contracts with suppliers and so on. Extra payments for workers who are unable to work cannot be sustained.
”It seems likely that the only way to avoid bankruptcy for many, particularly smaller businesses, will be to make staff redundant and/or close the business down completely. The biggest hits are likely to be in areas where social distancing will mean much smaller capacity – restaurants, cafes, many pubs, smaller shops.
“Many consumers are going to be very cautious about going into potentially crowded places. Home-based lifestyles are going to be more popular. In time business will react to this, but in the short run many jobs will necessarily disappear.”