Millions expected to claim as UK furlough scheme goes live

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A government pay scheme to keep staff on the payroll despite not working due to coronavirus has gone live.

HMRC chief executive Jim Harra told the BBC’s Today programme that 67,000 claims from employers had been made in the first 30 minutes.

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the government will cover 80% of workers’ wages, up to £2,500 a month, if they are put on leave.

Millions of workers are expected to be “furloughed” because of the lockdown.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “We promised support would be available by the end of April – today, we deliver our promise.”

The Treasury says the system can process up to 450,000 applications an hour. Employers should receive the money within six working days of making an application, it says.

Although the government has received praise for its plans to mitigate the economic fallout of the coronavirus, it is being warned that firms need support quickly.

Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Our research indicates that two-thirds of firms have furloughed some portion of their workforce.

“With April’s payday approaching, it is essential that the application process is smooth and that payments are made as soon as possible.

“Any delay would exacerbate the cash crisis many companies are facing and could threaten jobs and businesses.”

Read more via BBC

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