Boris: I’ll protect jobs when furlough ends
BORIS Johnson has promised he will continue to protect workers when the furlough scheme ends next month.
The Prime Minister vowed to shore up businesses and create more jobs as the Covid resurgence continues to bite.
Insisting he will keep the economy moving, Mr Johnson pledged the Government will continue to “put its arms around” workers throughout the economic turmoil ahead.
He told MPs: “Our objective is to keep businesses going and to keep the economy moving as much as we can.
“We will continue to send that support throughout the whole of the UK, to put our arms around the whole of the workforce of the UK and to protect jobs and livelihoods.
“But what we also want to see is those businesses continuing and jobs being created.”
Figures released yesterday showed the Government’s five support schemes have paid out more than £ 110billion since they started in May.
The bounce- back loan scheme, which provides cash for small businesses, has so far lent £ 38billion.
The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme ( CBILS) and its equivalent for larger companies called CLBILS has paid out £ 15.45billion and £ 3.84billion.
Meanwhile, the Government has also paid £ 39.3billion to 9.6 million people in furlough cash and £ 13.4billion to self- employed people.
The DIY group behind B& Q and Screwfix has said it intends to return £ 23million of furlough pay to the Government after UK sales and profits climbed during the pandemic.
Sales rose 3.7 per cent at Kingfisher’s UK business in the six months to July 31 – despite several weeks during which stores were closed or only partially open – as families snapped up garden and decorating materials to improve homes.
Retail profits in the UK rose more than 47 per cent to £ 411million as the company benefited from £ 45million in business rates relief and cut spending on non- essential store maintenance, marketing and IT. Both Mr Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak have come under mounting pressure to extend the furlough scheme beyond the October 31 cut- off.
Experts have warned it will lead to a “cliff- edge” of redundancies, causing mass unemployment.
Meanwhile, Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey has warned the surge in Covid- 19 cases threatens the outlook for the UK economy.
But he stressed policymakers will do “everything we can” to support households and businesses. Speaking on a British Chambers of Commerce web forum, Mr Bailey cautioned over “hard yards ahead” for the economy with a second wave of coronavirus infections.
He said the rapid rise of cases “reinforce the downside risks” to the economy as he laid bare worries over unemployment that is rising faster than shown in official data and long- term scarring from the crisis.
He said: “The latest news, that we are seeing a very unfortunate, faster return of Covid- 19 is extremely difficult
news for all of us and the whole country. That does reinforce the downside risks we have in our forecasts.
“The Bank of England will do everything we can do within our remit and powers to support the businesses and people of this country.”
Mr Bailey said now was the time to “stop and rethink” the furlough support scheme for workers in favour of a more targeted approach.
But he said he did not want to “tie the Chancellor’s hands”, adding “the world is changing rapidly around us”. He also played down the prospect of the UK imminently slashing interest rates into negative territory for the first time in history, insisting the Bank just needed to make sure it could do so if needed.
Speculation over below- zero rates mounted last week after minutes of its latest Monetary Policy Committee meeting revealed the Bank was looking at how negative rates could be put into practice.