Furlough alert: Lamont warns Downing Street NOT to scrap worker scheme

Lord Lamont said the emergency measure should be removed gradually as it would help in  the UK’s economic recovery. The scheme sees the Government pay 80 per cent of the wages of employees unable to work because of the coronavirus crisis - up to the value of £2,500. It is designed to stop firms that are unable to operate under lockdown from laying off staff, keeping people in jobs.

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Taxpayers have so far forked out £8 billion to help pay the wages of 6.3 million workers since it was launched by Chancellor Rishi Sunak almost three weeks ago.

Lord Lamont, the Chancellor under John Major between 1990 and 1993, is among a chorus of key economic figures warning of an unemployment “cliff-edge” if the scheme ends abruptly on its deadline at the end of June.

"I think the key point is actually to get the recovery going and to make sure that you don't obstruct it,” he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"And the key thing I think is to continue, probably on a tapered basis, with some of the assistance to industry, and carry on with that until the recovery actually gets a grip and is self-sustaining."

Another former chancellor, Alistair Darling, yesterday warned unemployment could reach the scale of the 1980s if the Government failed to continue with the job retention

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