Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will continue until October.
The scheme pays 80 per cent of the salaries of people unable to work because of Coronavirus, capped at £2,500 per month.
It had been due to end in June but the Chancellor’s announcement means that it will continue unchanged until the end of July and in modified form until the end of October.
Rob Johnston, Chief Executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “This scheme has been hugely beneficial in Cumbria where we have a large number of hospitality and tourism businesses that have been forced to close entirely.
“They employ 65,000 people. Without the Job Retention Scheme, many of them would have been made redundant.
“We lobbied hard through the British Chambers of Commerce for the scheme to be extended and we’re delighted that the Chancellor has acted on what we said.
“He’s also agreed to our proposal to change the scheme rules to allow employers to partially furlough staff so businesses can employ individuals part-time with furlough payments covering the days they don’t work.
“That added flexibility will benefit many businesses here, including manufacturers and construction firms that are operating at a reduced level because of supply chain issues.”
Nationally, 7.5m workers have been furloughed and are receiving payments under the scheme.
Our coronavirus survey suggests that as many as 60 per cent of businesses here have furloughed at least some of their employees.
Rob added: “The Chancellor plans to reduce the level of support offered beyond July and he’s going to consult Chambers and other organisations on how to do that.
“He could reduce the percentage of salaries covered, lower the £2,500 monthly cap or a combination of the two.
“Reading between the lines, he may say that the scheme will continue to cover 80% of an employee’s salary but the Government will cover only part of that with the employer making up the difference.
“The point we will make forcibly to him is that, even when businesses reopen, social distancing rules will mean that many will operate at a reduced level.
“They will need continued financial support from government if we’re to avoid a catastrophic spike in business insolvencies and redundancies in the months ahead.
“We’ll continue to lobby the Government to ensure Cumbrian businesses are represented and we’ll continue to update our online toolkit so businesses have the information they need.”