24 September 2020. The Guardian, UK: The government will cover almost a quarter of pay for workers in “viable” jobs for the next six months, the chancellor said as he outlined plans that will take over from the furlough scheme when it finishes at the end of October.
Unveiling a support package designed to help fend off mass unemployment in the wake of the new restrictions imposed to contain the coronavirus, Rishi Sunak said he knew curbs on everyday freedoms were challenging and that the time had come for the public to live with some element of risk.
“It is on all of us, we must learn to live with it and live without fear,” he said.
Sunak’s move mimics the German Kurzarbeit scheme that provides a government contribution to the wages of employees facing short-time working in companies where business is slow. British workers will need to work at least a third of their normal hours to qualify for the chancellor’s new Job Support Scheme. Their employer will pay normal wages for those hours.
Of the remaining two-thirds of each worker’s usual pay, the employer will pay 33% and the government will pay 33%, meaning that the worker will receive 77% of their usual monthly wage in total. The government will be paying 22%, capped at a maximum £697.72 a month. The employer will pay 55%.
Addressing the resurgence of the virus that had made the measures necessary, Sunak said the public should not be blamed for “striving towards normality” by seeing their friends and loved ones in recent months, a covert defence of his eat out to help out scheme.
“People were not wrong for wanting that … and nor was the government wrong to want this for them,” he said. “I said in the summer that we must endure and live with the uncertainty of the moment. This means learning our new limits as we go.”
Sunak warned MPs it was “not sustainable or affordable to continue to provide the level of support that we did at the beginning of this crisis” and said that would continue to be the case.
“It can’t be that we borrow at this level forever; we must get our borrowing back under control and get our debt falling again.”