Almost FOUR MILLION workers now having wages paid by the Government

Almost FOUR MILLION workers are now having £4.5billion wages paid by the Government as the number of firms seeking emergency furlough payments passes 500,000

  • 512,000 firms employing 3.8million people have applied to furlough them 
  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was only set up on Monday this week
  • Greene King became the largest big firm to announce it was using the scheme 
  • Suffolk-based brewer and pub chain is to furlough 36,0000 employees 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Almost four million British workers are now having their wages covered by the Government using emergency coronavirus aid, new figures revealed today.

Some 512,000 firms employing 3.8million people have applied to furlough them on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme since it opened on Monday.

Applications worth around £4.5 billion have now been made, with 77,000 new claims on Thursday, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said this afternoon.  

The new figures come as Downing Street faces increasing pressure from MPs and businesses to outline its plan for reopening Britain for business once it is safe to do so. 

Pub and brewer Greene King became the largest big firm to announce it was using the scheme to furlough 36,0000 employees  today – despite being run by the family of Hong Kong’s richest man.

It is owned by CK Asset Holdings which was founded by Li Ka-Shing, a tycoon worth around $30billion and father of its current chairman. It paid £4.6 billion pounds for Bury St Edmunds-based Greene King last year.

Pub and brewer Greene King became the largest big firm to announce it was using the scheme to furlough 36,0000 employees today – despite being run by the family of Hong Kong’s richest man

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said easing the UK’s lockdown depends on the speed at which the number of new cases of Covid-19 falls and that is as yet ‘unknown’

CK said it had not intended to make material changes to Greene King’s employees when it bought the company, but has now put over 95 per cent of the pub chain’s staff on furlough due to the coronavirus crisis.

The changes are expected to be temporary and Greene King intends to end the furlough when appropriate, it said.

The government introduced the furlough scheme to maintain the link between employers and employees during the coronavirus crisis. 

It allows firms to claim cash grants worth up to 80 per cent of employee wages up to a cap of £2,500 a month per worker.  

Furloughed staff are not allowed to work while they are effectively being paid by the state but ministers hope the scheme will allow companies to get back up and running quickly after lockdown while also keeping people financially afloat. 

It comes as Health Secretary Matt Hancock said easing the UK’s lockdown depends on the speed at which the number of new cases of Covid-19 falls and that is as yet ‘unknown’.

The number of new cases is being tracked through hospital admissions, a new testing study in the community with results expected in early May, and data gathered from key workers now being tested, Mr Hancock said.

But he suggested there is no prospect of easing the lockdown yet, and that coronavirus cases need to drop substantially before the next phase of isolating infected people and their contacts can be truly effective.

Through a process of mass testing and by isolating infected people and their contacts, ministers hope that future localised outbreaks of corornavirus can be kept under control.

Mr Hancock told Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Now that we’re at the peak, and we very much hope that things will start to slow down and, if and when they do, then the speed with which the number of new cases reduces will frankly will determine how long we need to keep the measures on and that is as yet unknown.’ 

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