Mike Hawking, Policy & Partnerships Manager at the independent Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said:
“The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been a vital lifeline, helping businesses and workers to stay afloat through the COVID-19 storm. Today’s announcement to extend the scheme means this crucial support will continue through the uncertain times ahead.
“The Chancellor has committed to unwinding the scheme flexibly. It must also be unwound compassionately. Government should clarify that people who are unable to work because they are shielding or for caring reasons can continue to access the scheme. The ability of workers to request furlough must be strengthened too – no-one should be forced to choose between protecting their health or their income.
“Some businesses will remain furloughed for the foreseeable future, many in industries with large numbers of low-paid workers. The government should introduce access to training and learning opportunities for furloughed workers, providing a much-needed boost to skills and helping to build a more sustainable and inclusive economy after this crisis has passed.”