Chancellor to outline pandemic job protection moves

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"Our Future Fund: Breakthrough scheme will enable innovative businesses in every corner of the UK to access the finance they need to scale up and bring their transformational technologies to market - all while creating high-skilled jobs and boosting the economy as part of our Plan for Jobs" - The Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak.

Rishi Sunak is expected to move to protect jobs on Thursday to bolster the economy in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.

The Chancellor will address the Commons after cancelling this year’s Budget.

With the furlough work scheme set to finish at the end of October, he is set to announce measures aimed at protecting millions of jobs in sectors hit by the latest Government guidance on coronavirus.

The intervention comes after increasing pressure from business groups, MPs and unions to extend the furlough scheme as stricter restrictions are introduced.

Number 11 said work on the scheme, first revealed by the Chancellor on Twitter, had been taking place in parallel with Budget preparations and the focus has been on jobs to avoid the expected three million unemployed.

The Treasury said: “We will always be honest with people about the difficult trade-offs that are involved here.

“Not between health and the economy, but between keeping people in jobs and helping them find new ones. And between help in the here and now and rebuilding in the future. That’s what people deserve.”

The Chancellor initially announced his move via Twitter, with a graphic titled “Winter Economy Plan”.

Mr Rishi’s initiative will include VAT cuts, loans for hard hit businesses and wage subsidies, according to reports.

The moves come after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the country could have to deal with up to another six months of coronavirus restrictions.

One option reportedly being considered to replace the furlough scheme is Germany’s Kurzarbeit, or shorter work-time policy, under which firms can cut working hours in economic downturns with the state replacing part of their lost income.

Another proposal put forward by the CBI business group would see subsidies for firms that can offer staff at least 50% of their normal hours, with the cost for non-working hours shared equally by the company, the Treasury and the employee.

At Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Johnson was repeatedly challenged about the looming prospect of support being withdrawn from firms and workers despite the prospect of the latest restrictions being in place for six months.

The furlough scheme has cost the Government £39.3 billion to date, with £3.9 billion between August 16 and September 20 alone, according to the latest figures released.

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