Furlough, or the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme as it is more formally known, has helped millions of Britons to stay in employment throughout the pandemic. Providing a percentage of wages to companies, organisations who shuttered were able to keep on staff while not being burdened with costs during closure. However, as restrictions lift and the Government moves towards living with COVID-19, furlough is being withdrawn.
Steve Turner, Unite’s assistant general secretary for manufacturing, commented on the matter.
He said: “When we negotiated furlough, I said to the Government it would more than prove its value by protecting jobs, incomes and skills, something which has demonstrably been the case.
“It is far better to retain workers through temporary crises, dips in demand and technological transformation such as we are seeing now with the greening of our economy, than to lose them altogether, along with the skills and knowledge they possess, and allowing unemployment to rise.
“That’s why I am calling on the Government not to scrap the scheme altogether but to adapt it.
“Reform it into a short-time working scheme, like they have in Germany and many of our competition countries, to support critical sectors like manufacturing through peaks and troughs, serious supply chain problems and the transition to a greener future that’s now underway.”
Mr Turner added he does not believe the UK is “out of the woods” when it comes to the pandemic.
Instead, the autumn could bring about a fresh spate of cases of COVID-19, and indeed further disruptions.
He continued: “That’s why I am urging ministers not to waste the good work that’s been done, or to miss a fantastic legacy that can develop from furlough.
“To pull the rug from under the feet of businesses and workers now will dent the confidence needed for businesses to invest and adapt operations at this critical time as we try to recover and result the economy.
“It is hard to comprehend the motivation for or sense in ending both the furlough scheme and snatching back £20 a week from hard-working people on Universal Credit on the same day.
“It’s a double whammy and could make September 30 a very bleak day for workers, their families and communities.”
Furlough, under current plans, will continue to wind down from tomorrow, where Government support will drop to 60 percent.
Employers will therefore be required to take on additional financial responsibility if they keep workers on furlough.
Referring to the end of support measures, and the Universal Credit uplift specifically, a Treasury spokesperson previously commented to Express.co.uk.
They said: “Throughout this crisis, the Government has spent £400billion protecting people’s jobs, livelihoods and supporting businesses and public services. We went long and extended economic support well beyond the end of the roadmap, right through to the end of September. That includes unprecedented welfare support.
“More than £9billion will have been spent on the uplift by the time it ends in September. It is right that economic support is wound down as we come out of this crisis and we focus on helping people back into work. We have purposely provided a three month cushion once restrictions are lifted in order to support those who most need it.”