Mr Sunak has extended the scheme to pay workers on leave due to coronavirus until October, meaning they will continue to receive 80 per cent of their monthly pay, capped at £2,500. However, he has also said companies will have to start sharing the cost from August.
Some 7.5 million people – one quarter of the workforce – are currently covered by the scheme at a cost of £14 billion per month.
Mr Sunak said: “I’m extending the scheme because I won’t give up on the people who rely on it.
“Our message today is simple: we stood behind Britain’s workers and businesses as we came into this crisis, and we will stand behind them as we come through the other side.”
Fiona Hyslop, the Scottish Government’s cabinet secretary for economy, fair work and culture, commented: “In our letter last week, Finance Secretary Kate Forbes and I urged the Chancellor to continue the Job Retention Scheme beyond June. The scheme is playing an important role in maintaining employment and income, so I welcome today’s announcement of an extension until the end of October.
“I am particularly pleased that from August flexibility will be introduced enabling people to return to work part time, without being penalised financially, as businesses transition out of the lockdown and adapt to new operating conditions which are likely to require the maintenance of physical distancing and other public health measures.
“However, more clarity is required on the details of today’s announcement. In particular, what employers will be asked to contribute to the costs of the scheme, how any changes will relate to guidance on safer workplaces in each of the four nations, how workers in isolation will be supported and what additional support might be provided to industries, such as tourism and hospitality, facing specific difficulties. I will be raising these issues with the UK Government in the coming days.”