Chancellor Rishi Sunak extends the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme until October

Posted on 12 May 2020

Rishi Sunak, Chancellor and Under-Treasurer of Her Majesty's Exchequer, has announced some changes to the UK's job retention scheme, which will take effect at the end of July. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is being used all across the nation to subsidise wages for furloughed employees, including those working within the creative and entertainment sector.

The UK's Job Retention Scheme continues

In early May, Artistic Director of the National Theatre Rufus Norris stressed that the majority of theatres will not be able to sustain themselves without further support from the government during lockdown measures and in mid-April, a survey conducted by SOLT and UK Theatre found that roughly 2 out of 3 receiving theatres cannot survive without additional government assistance.

According to recently published government statistics, so far, seven and a half-million employees have been furloughed with about one million businesses having been supported. 

Rishi Sunak declared: "The job retention scheme will be extended, for four months, until the end of October" with changes to the scheme set to take place at the end of July. 

"The scheme will continue, for all sectors and regions of the UK, but with greater flexibility to support the transition back to work.". Starting in August, "employers currently using the scheme will be able to bring furloughed employees back part-time," but the government will "ask employers to start sharing, with the government, the costs of paying people's salaries."

The amount in support will remain unchanged, though, as mentioned above, the cost will be shared by employers and the government. More details regarding the Job Retention Scheme will be announced in due course.

Equity has sent an open letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer stressing that "the majority of theatres, pubs, comedy clubs and other live entertainment venues across the country will not start to open their doors until early next year – if indeed they manage to survive until then."

In the House of Commons, Greater Manchester MP Katherine Green OBE of the Labour Party cast a spotlight on the role that creative industries play and that it will be "among the last" industries to return after the quarantine. She asked Sunak whether the industry would be supported for "as long as needed." Sunak replied that the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden is workout out strategies to support the creative sector over the course of the next few months and did not go into detail on the future of the SEISS (Self-Employed Income Support Scheme), which many artists and performers are relying on for their livelihoods.

📰 This is a developing story. Keep checking back on our news pages for all the latest announcements regarding the West End and COVID-19.
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Nicholas Ephram Ryan Daniels

By Nicholas Ephram Ryan Daniels

Ephram is a jack of all trades and enjoys attending theatre, classical music concerts and the opera.