Labour calls for 'smart' furlough scheme extension

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, or the furlough scheme, started in March 2020 to safeguard UK jobs in the face of the pandemic. It was extended multiple times, but is now projected to end on the 30th April this year.  

Labour is calling on the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak to introduce a “smart” extension of the furlough scheme to protect jobs as long as health restrictions remain in place, as part of an immediate, emergency Jobs Recovery Package to tackle Britain’s ballooning unemployment crisis.

With 4.6 million people still on furlough, it is important not to wind down the scheme while public health restrictions are in place and demand is still severely impacted.

Seven months after Sunak launched his Plan for Jobs last July, redundancies are at record highs, 1.7 million people are out of work.

After the extension of the scheme last December, Sunak said it would be “helping our economy to recover and protecting livelihoods across the country.”

Anneliese Dodds, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, said:

“Rishi Sunak’s Plan for Jobs has been a disaster. Seven months after its launch, we’ve got record redundancies, soaring unemployment and the worst economic crisis of any major economy.

We need urgent action to secure, recover and create jobs. This must include a smarter furlough scheme, an overhaul of the failing Kickstart youth programme, and reform of the shambolic Green Homes Grant as part of wider action to ‘Build it in Britain’ and support the creation of 400,000 clean, new jobs.

People can’t afford to wait for the Chancellor to get his act together. They need emergency action today, not more dither and delay until the Budget.”

It is yet to be seen how Labour’s proposal will be funded, and there are growing concerns that the cost of the furlough scheme would continue to soar. Additionally, there is yet to be mention of who would be covered by Labour’s proposal.