Thursday 7 May 2020 10:44 am

Brits think furlough scheme should last as long as social distancing

Britons think the government’s furlough scheme should last as long as social distancing, according to an exclusive poll for City A.M. 

The poll, conducted by Redfield and Wilton Strategies, found that 57 per cent of Britons want the job retention scheme to continue as long as distancing measures are in place, even if for several more months. Just 13 per cent of those surveyed said the scheme should end as planned on 30 June. 

Read more: Government will extend furlough beyond June if needed, says minister

The job retention scheme sees the government pay 80 per cent of people’s wages up to £2,500 a month. 

However, chancellor Rishi Sunak is looking to wind down the scheme gradually over the next few months as costs mount. One of the options being mooted is to reduce the current subsidy to 60 per cent, with further small reductions. 

Britons disagree with this direction, with just 29 per cent of respondents saying the government is paying too high a percentage of the wages of furloughed employees. 

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Sunak has promised there will not be a cliff edge at the end of June and is looking at the best way of phasing out the scheme. However, Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis said this morning that the government is committed to extending the scheme if required. 

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: “At the moment its due to end at the end of June. But the chancellor has been clear – if we need to extend furlough beyond the end of June we will do that.”

Nearly two-thirds of Britons agree that the government should extend the furlough scheme if lockdown means some businesses cannot reopen by 30 June. 

Read more: Rishi Sunak considers cutting furlough pay to 60 per cent of wages

Labour and other business groups have also called on the Treasury to extend or amend the scheme as concerns mount that it could cause mass redundancies. These fears are becoming increasingly prevalent, with 41 per cent of respondents saying their employment status is unlikely to survive the longer the lockdown measures continue. 

Redfield and Wilton Strategies polled 1,500 British adults as part of their research into global health and governance opinion.

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