Chancellor Rishi Sunak is set to reveal the future of the government’s retention program later, amid growing calls to extend it.
Currently, more than six million people receive 80% of their government-paid wages while on temporary leave from work.
Sunak previously warned that the program, which was due to end in June, was not “sustainable” at its current rate.
It happens when the government tries to get more people back to work.
On Monday evening, it released guidelines for making “Covid workplaces safe,” including requiring employers to do risk assessments before they can reopen.
Almost a quarter of the UK workforce has been freed, with 80% of employees’ wages – up to £ 2,500 per month – paid by the government.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday described the initiative as “one of the most remarkable features of the government response” and “unlike anything seen internationally.”
“Six and a half million people are currently supported. It is entirely fair that we do so. “
He added that he did not want to steal the thunder from his chancellor, but said that Mr. Sunak would update the deputies on Tuesday.
Last week, Mr. Sunak promised that there would be no cut “at the edge of the cliff.”
Torsten Bell, the managing director of the Resolution Foundation think tank and one of the early supporters of the project, warned against deleting it too quickly.
“Acting too quickly could trigger a huge second wave of job losses at a time when unemployment is already expected to be the highest in a quarter of a century,” he said.
“This policy has made a huge difference in this crisis. It must now be modified carefully and gradually to ensure that the benefits it has provided are guaranteed rather than wasted. “
This latest development in the plan comes as the government continues to defend its return to work message, released this week.
Unions and the Labor Party criticized Johnson for making his return-to-work call on his Sunday night TV show without explaining how it could be done safely.
Johnson used the daily Downing Street briefing on Monday to clarify the new rules, saying employers should prove that they meet a new safety standard, dubbed “Covid secure”.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has released new guidance for UK employers on how to implement social distancing measures, with eight separate documents issued for sectors which can now reopen.
Actions could include staggered start times, one-way systems, screens between workers, and increased cleaning.
The ministers are also expected to provide further information on how people can safely travel on public transport as the coronavirus lock begins to loosen.
TUC secretary general Frances O’Grady cautiously welcomed the new workplace orientation, saying it was a “step in the right direction”.
But the union said ministers had to tackle the provision of personal protective equipment because more workers needed it.
“After the confusion of the past few days, workers will only feel confident if government and employers take action now to make safer work a reality in all workplaces,” she said.
“Very serious risk”
However, a former chief scientific adviser, Sir David King, questioned the security of the plans, saying it would be “reckless” for people to return to work too soon.
He said the UK should first focus on developing effective contact tracing and improving public health capacity before easing the lock.
“I think until it is in place, I would just say that we run the very serious risk of going back to where we just went out six weeks ago, and the fact that we are going to be detained will extend the time of the epidemic for a much longer time.
“I think we should be a lot more careful in canceling the lock. “
Figures released Monday showed that another 210 people died in the UK after being tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the total number of deaths recorded to 32,065.
After eight days of failing to meet its target of 100,000 tests per day, the government counted 100,490 tests on May 10.
Also on Monday, the government released new guidelines for the public, as well as a lengthy strategy document, on the next steps for its response to coronaviruses in England.
The information includes new advice for people in England to wear face covers on public transport and in certain stores.
He also explained how, starting on Wednesday, people in England will be allowed to meet another person outside their home as long as they stay outside and within 2 meters of each other.
However, leaders from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland said the “stay at home” messages remained in place there – prompting Mr Johnson to defend different approaches between British nations.
The 60-page document also said:
- People in England can go to any open outdoor space in the country – but not to other UK countries whose rules must be followed
- Healthy people aged 70 and over should take special care to minimize contact with others – even if the NHS has not advised them to protect
- Clothes should be washed regularly if people work with other people outside the home
- Doors and windows should be left open in places where people from different households interact
- “Rapid reengineering of government structures and institutions” is needed to deal with Covid-19
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