Finance

Chancellor praises resolve of British public as furlough period closes

The Chancellor has paid tribute to the resolve of the British public as furlough comes to a close.

Marking the move to the next phase of the government’s Plan for Jobs, part of a £400 billion support package for the economy, Rishi Sunak told how more employees are now on payrolls than before the pandemic struck.

Underlying wages are also increasing strongly, with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development predicting the UK to see the fastest growth in the G7 this year and next.

Read more: ‘Freeports are at the centre of the levelling up agenda’

Speaking ahead of a visit to Legal and General’s modular construction facility in Yorkshire, Mr Sunak said: “I am immensely proud of the furlough scheme, and even more proud of UK workers and businesses whose resolve has seen us through an immensely difficult time.

“With the recovery well underway, and more than one million job vacancies, now is the right time for the scheme to draw to a close.

“But that in no way means the end of our support. Our Plan for Jobs is helping people into work and making sure they have the skills needed for the jobs of the future.”

More than 11.6 million people drew on the wage subsidy, with £68 billion invested over 18 months.

He plans to double-down on his call for firms to make the most of billions in further support on offer, including the super-deduction – described as the biggest business tax break in modern British history – the Kickstart Scheme, apprenticeships and traineeships.

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The Resolution Foundation said this week that the furlough scheme has “prevented catastrophic rises in unemployment”, and there are now almost two million fewer people forecast to be out of work than was feared at the height of the pandemic.

The super-deduction has allowed Legal and General to expand the Sherburn in Elmet factory capacity, and has supported over 1,900 jobs across the UK, including 400 new jobs.

Mr Sunak will meet apprentices and an employee who has secured a placement with Legal and General through the Kickstart scheme.

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