The government has spent more than £52 billion supporting UK companies through the coronavirus crisis – but experts have warned two million jobs are still at risk as the UK plunges into the deepest recession on record.
The Treasury said today £34.7 billion has been paid out to 9.6 million workers on the furlough scheme since the start of the pandemic, while £7.8 billion has been granted to workers who applied for the first part of the self-employment income support scheme.
However, the majority of financial support has been given through the Bounce Back Loan scheme, which can provide small companies with 100% state-backed loans worth up to £50,000.
Meanwhile, £35.47 billion has been approved to help 1,174,854 small UK companies survive the pandemic, while £13.68 billion has gone towards assisting 60,409 slightly larger businesses through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.
Hundreds of large companies have also benefited from the coronavirus large business interruption loan scheme, with 516 loans worth £3.5 billion now given the green light.
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The Treasury has also paid out £588.3 million in support to high-growth companies through the Future Fund support scheme.
However, the Chancellor still faces questions about the estimated three million people who have received no financial help for the past five months.
Rishi Sunak promised ‘no one would be left behind’ in March – but campaign group ExcludedUK is currently fighting to help those who were not eligible for the financial schemes, with more than 200 MPs calling on the government to take action.
The new figures also come amid warnings that unemployment could soar to levels ‘not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s’ if the furlough scheme ends as planned in October.
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) said two million jobs could be lost if further help is not granted, with the ONS confirming last week 730,000 workers had already been taken off payrolls between March and July.
Three million jobs will ‘still be on life support’ when the coronavirus job retention scheme comes to an end, the authors of a new IPPR report said.
The think tank has recommended the government create a coronavirus work-sharing scheme (CWSS) which would avoid mass redundancies by cutting workers’ hours and allowing unemployment insurance benefits to compensate for the reduction.
Clare McNeil, associate director for work and the welfare state at the IPPR has cautioned that jobs will not be lost ‘because business owners are not working hard or smart enough’ but due to continuing social distancing measures.
She said: ‘In many cases, years of experience and dedication may be lost with those jobs, and we know that the disabled, those who are shielding and those with caring responsibilities – particularly women – are most at risk.’
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