Rishi Sunak (pictured) is facing mounting pressure to “listen to sense” and extend the furlough scheme after new figures revealed 1.8 million workers in the UK could be made redundant when the Job Retention Scheme ends in a matter of weeks.
Following new Office for National Statistics research, which revealed more than one in ten workers – 11% of the workforce – were on the scheme in the two weeks between September 7 and September 20, the SNP has again urged the Chancellor to extend the furlough scheme into 2021.
Economists fear the unemployment rate could hit 12% when the scheme is fully withdrawn and the Office for Budget Responsibility estimate that 20% of the 8.9 million people who were furloughed at the height of the first wave of the pandemic could end up losing their jobs.
The Chancellor announced, as part of his winter economic plan, that he will not extend the furlough scheme – despite a rise in coronavirus cases and tighter restrictions – and instead introduced a new job support scheme.
The SNP’s Shadow Chancellor, Alison Thewliss MP, has said this fails to deliver anywhere near the scale of investment needed to prevent mass job losses and protect livelihoods.
Commenting, Alison Thewliss MP said:
“This is the latest in a series of warnings from economists, think tanks, anti-poverty organisations and politicians from across the country that ending the furlough scheme in a matter of weeks could see millions made redundant.
“The Chancellor must listen to sense and extend the furlough scheme into 2021 if he is to follow through on his commitment to “do whatever it takes” to protect the economy.
“That means protecting jobs, businesses and livelihoods in Scotland and the UK – not setting us up for a bitter winter of redundancies.
“By ploughing ahead with plans to abandon workers and employers in their time of need, the Tories really are showing their true, callous colours.
“Make no mistake, the responsibility for every job loss that comes from the furlough scheme being ended prematurely will lie squarely at the gates of Downing Street.”