COVID-19: Layoffs warning as £ 70bn leave scheme ends | UK News
The government’s coronavirus leave program ends today after supporting millions of workers during the pandemic.
Ministers said the salaries of more than 11 million jobs have been subsidized for at least part of the duration of the program, at a cost of around £ 70 billion.
According to estimates by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), there is now uncertainty about the nearly one million people who were still participating in the program at the end of September.
Economists say there will likely be an increase in unemployment due to further layoffs, despite the fact that some could find work in recovering industries such as travel and hospitality.
Job vacancies in the UK have reached a record over a million, according to recent data from the ONS, with openings in the hotel and transport sectors up by more than 75% in three months.
But Samuel Tombs, UK chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said he still had “doubts” whether the economy had recovered enough to rehire all those coming off leave.
The wind-up of the program could hit some particularly hard as it comes at the same time as the £ 20 universal credit hike ends, and against a backdrop of rising energy bills.
The Liberal Democrats have warned of a “tidal wave” of job losses and want the holidays to continue for some sectors.
In a letter to the Chancellor, Liberal Democrat Treasury spokeswoman Christine Jardine said the leave should be maintained for an additional six months for 10 sectors particularly affected by the pandemic, such as air travel.
“The withdrawal of the leave is likely to have a devastating impact on countless families already facing a winter of skyrocketing energy bills,” Jardine said.
“The government needs to rethink its approach or the country could face a Coronavirus Black Thursday.”
The party said the extension will cost around £ 600million.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is also expected to announce a subsidy program to help poorer households this winter.
The plan could see up to £ 500million distributed by local authorities, according to Bloomberg.
It would replace the COVID local support grant – which also ends Thursday after helping people with food and bills during the pandemic.
The Treasury has yet to confirm the information.