U.K. Chancellor Rishi Sunak has revealed that the country’s furlough scheme has been extended to the end of October.
There will be changes from the end of July, however, with the cost of paying salaries set to be shared by the government as well as employers. Previously, the government was carrying the full burden of paying 80% of employee salaries.
Under the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, first unveiled in March by Sunak, employers have been able to apply for grants that cover 80% of employee salaries, up to £2,500 ($3,100) a month. The scheme was originally planned to run for four months from March 1 until the end of June.
Speaking in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Sunak said the scheme will have provided eight months of support to British people and businesses by the end of October.
The four-month extension will have “greater flexibility to support the transition back to work,” according to a tweet from Sunak. “Employers currently using the scheme will be able to bring furloughed employees back part-time.”
The cost will be shared by employers and the government after July. Sunak has promised more details at the end of May, but promises, “One thing won’t change: Workers will, through the combined efforts of government and employers, continue to receive the same level of support as they do now, at 80% of their salary, up to £2,500.”
Some 7.5 million workers are now covered by the scheme, up from 6.3 million last week, he said.
The scheme has been widely used by employers in the entertainment sector as production has halted and ad revenues have plunged.
U.K. commercial broadcaster ITV has furloughed 800 staff, comprising around 15% of its local workforce.
Broadcaster Channel 4, as well as superindies Endemol Shine and All3Media are among other companies that have furloughed staff.
The changes to the furlough scheme comes as the U.K. continues to grapple with the effects of coronavirus, with government reporting 32,065 death so far.