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UK Government warned against ‘reckless race’ to wind down furlough

Chancellor Rishi Sunak intends to scrap furlough support from September 30.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak intends to scrap furlough support from September 30.

The SNP has urged the UK Government to u-turn on plans to “prematurely” cut Covid-19 income support schemes.

The call comes as the furlough scheme is further scaled back from today, with employers now expected to contribute at least 20% of support until the scheme is scrapped on September 30.

The latest data from the UK Treasury shows the total number of claimants for the Job Retention Scheme stood at 1.9 million on June 30.

This is down 590,000 from May 31 where there were 2.4 million people seeking furlough support.

But the SNP has repeatedly called on the Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak to end the deadline and keep the scheme in place for as long as necessary.

‘Reckless plans’

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford urged the UK Government to “u-turn on their irresponsible and reckless race to prematurely cut support schemes”.

He added: “The Treasury should be looking to strengthen measures – including for the 3 million excluded – rather than scrap them.

“The impact of Covid restrictions has been significant and businesses are not fully back on their feet.

“As recent figures have shown, firms and workers are still feeling the hit due to the huge number of staff having to self-isolate after receiving alerts.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford.

“There has been no hesitation from the Tory government to hand out multi-million pound Covid contracts to friends, close contacts and party donors or spend hundreds of millions of pounds on a royal yacht – yet it is in a rush to end support to help hard hit households.

“I urge the Prime Minister to rethink his reckless plans and to keep the furlough scheme in place for as long as necessary and to extend support to the millions who have so far been left behind.”

‘One of the largest packages of support’

A Treasury spokesman said: “We’re proud that the support we put in place throughout the pandemic was one of the largest packages anywhere in the world. Including protecting one in three Scottish jobs.

“This includes the multi-billion pound furlough scheme, with the number of Scottish workers on furlough having halved over the past three months.

“The Scottish Government has also benefited from £14.5 billion in additional Barnett funding to help with their response to the pandemic.”

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