Friday 9 July 2021 7:29 am

Rishi Sunak calls on workers to return to the office

Chancellor Rishi Sunak says Brits – especially younger workers – should return to the office as pandemic restrictions ease.

The Chancellor expressed concerns that staff could lose crucial work experience while the economy returns. He said it was “really important” for younger staff especially, according to the Telegraph.

Sunak admitted that working remotely and mostly through Zoom had been “not great” for those at the early stages of their careers. He described face-to-face interactions for this group as particularly “valuable”.

Workers are expected to return to the office at step four of the Prime Minister’s roadmap out of restrictions after July 19.

Sunak said: “I think for young people, especially, that ability to be in your office, be in your workplace and learn from others more directly, is something that’s really important and I look forward to us slowly getting back to that.”

The Chancellor said that over a third of the working population had received state support during the pandemic, including through the furlough and self-employment support schemes.

The furlough scheme has seen the government pay 80 per cent of people’s wages, up to £2,500, for those in England unable to work for large parts of the pandemic.

It is now being wound down, with the government reducing the percentage of wages it pays each month until it finishes completely in September.

According to data published by HMRC, 2.4m people are still on furlough in the UK, down from a high of 9m in May 2020. 

The Institute for Fiscal Studies now expects there to be a rise in “redundancies over the summer even before the final end of the scheme.”

Sunak was optimistic about the recovery though. He said the economy’s “engine is roaring” and “moving up a gear” as restrictions lifted.

His assessment came amid analysts’ prediction of a post-crisis consumer spending boom in the summer and the Institute for Fiscal Studies highlighting the “astonishing” return of real earnings growth and unemployment to pre-pandemic levels in the wake of major economic disruption.