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Government’s job retention scheme goes live

20 April 2020

By Gareth Jones, Associate Partner

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak gave today’s government press conference where he provided an update on the implementation of the government’s job retention scheme and announced further measures to help the UK economy.

A month on from his announcement that the government would start paying people’s wages, Sunak said that the furlough scheme had gone live today and announced that 140,000 firms have already applied to HMRC since it opened this morning. Sunak stated that these firms will get cash within six working days, meaning that 1 million people will be paid wages who might otherwise be at risk of losing their jobs.

The Chancellor then set out further measures, noting that as the UK plans for its recovery, it needs to focus on more than just maintaining current jobs and businesses – but also support future businesses and ongoing innovation. On this, Sunak announced a new future fund, a £500m scheme to support UK-based early stage companies with match-funding loans of £25,000--£5,000,000. The government would also provide £750 million worth of grants to support innovation and enterprise, working with InnovateUK. 

Elsewhere in the press conference, the Chancellor sought to address the issue of PPE, saying that the government is working hard to get the PPE NHS staff need, receiving shipments of PPE regularly, with recent orders from Turkey and Myanmar – stressing that it is an “international challenge” for all countries.

The Chancellor concluded by emphasising that the immediate government priority remained to protect people and slow the spread of the virus. He reiterated the points made by Dominic Raab last week on the five tests that would need to be cleared before we can relax any of the social distancing measures and prevent a second peak.