The British government has hailed its COVID-19 job retention scheme as a “huge success” as it is set to close at the end of Thursday.
The £70 billion ($94 billion) coronavirus job retention scheme, commonly known as furloughs, has supported 11.6 million UK workers over the past 18 months.
On the final day of planning, Treasury Chief Secretary Simon Clark said it was “a real milestone” in Britain’s journey from the CCP (Communist Party of China) virus pandemic.
“It’s a huge success, meaning this dire situation hasn’t cost millions of jobs, which would have been the central estimate,” Clark told Sky News. “We think there are 2 million fewer people unemployed because of furloughs than they would have been otherwise.”
“This is a moment when we can start to normalize the economy again and reduce the huge burden on the taxpayer that has been caused by this pandemic, and really look forward to a much brighter future now – employment opportunities.” The position is really strong.”
The furlough scheme was introduced in spring 2020 to avoid mass unemployment as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown. It initially paid 80 per cent of workers’ normal wages, but in the last two months it paid 60 per cent, with employers contributing 20 per cent.
The London-based think tank Resolution Foundation called the plan “a huge success”.
“The continued existence of the scheme during this entire crisis prevented a catastrophic increase in unemployment,” it said. “It was the worst recession for 300 years and yet the unemployment rate peaked at just 5.2 percent, the smallest increase in any recession in living memory.”
According to the latest estimates by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), around one million employees are still receiving support through the scheme as of the end of September.
Clark acknowledged that the end of the plan would result in “some job losses”, adding: “There is no easy moment to end these measures.”
“People’s jobs will be created just like some very tragically lost, this is part of the process to end this crisis and get back to normal,” he said.
The end of furloughs comes amid record UK vacancy figures, with the latest ONS data for August reporting more than 1 million available jobs for the first time on record.
There has also been significant recruitment amid labor shortages for HGV drivers, warehouse workers and food production workers.
PA contributed to this report.
This News Originally From – The Epoch Times