Rishi Sunak – 2020 Statement on the Covid-19 Economic Package

Below is the text of the statement made by Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the House of Commons on 12 May 2020.

Thank you, Mr Speaker, for your warm wishes.

This Government’s plan is one of the most comprehensive anywhere in the world. We have provided billions of pounds of cash grants, tax cuts and loans for over 1 million businesses, tens of billions of pounds of deferred taxes, income protection for millions of the self-employed, and a strengthened safety net to protect millions of our most vulnerable people. These schemes speak to my and this Conservative Government’s values. We believe in the dignity of work, and we are doing everything we can to protect people currently unable to work.

Yesterday my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister set out our plan for the next phase of the public health response, and today I can confirm the next stage of our job retention scheme. This scheme has been a world-leading economic intervention, supporting livelihoods and protecting futures. Seven and a half million jobs have been furloughed—jobs we could have lost if we had not acted—and nearly 1 million businesses supported who could have closed shop for good.

As we reopen the economy, we will need to support people back to work. We will do so in a measured way. I can announce today that the job retention scheme will be extended for four months, until the end of October. By that point, we will have provided eight months of support to British people and businesses. Until the end of July, there will be no changes whatsoever, from August to October the scheme will continue for all sectors and regions of the UK, but with greater flexibility to support the transition back to work. Employers currently using the scheme will be able to bring furloughed employees back part-time. We will ask employers to start sharing with the Government the cost of paying people’s salaries.

Full details will follow by the end of May, but I want to assure people today of one thing that will not change: workers will, through the combined efforts of the Government and employers, continue to receive the same level of overall support as they do now, at 80% of their current salary, up to £2,500 a month.

I am extending the scheme because I will not give up on the people who rely on it. Our message today is simple. We stood behind Britain’s workers and businesses as we came into this crisis and we will stand behind them as we come through the other side.