The latest stats
The government is now paying the wages for nearly a quarter of UK jobs under the Furlough scheme.
In the week ending 3rd May 2020, around 2.5 million people registered for the scheme, bringing the total claims to 6.3 million – 23% of the employed workforce.
The Department of Work and Pensions reported another massive 1.8 million new Universal Credit claims.
The spike in the numbers of people seeking assistance comes as the world braces for the most severe economic crisis since the 1930s. Forecasts suggest the UK economy will contract 6.5% or more this year.
3. The cost so far
The Government reports that around 800,000 employers have furloughed some or all of its workers since 20 April, when the programme started.
The Government added that it has distributed £8bn so far, with an average payout of £1,269 – about half of the £2,500 maximum. The scheme is due to run through June, suggesting the total cost could exceed £30bn.
In a TV interview, Chancellor Rishi Sunak explained that this level of expenditure was “not sustainable” and added: “I am working as we speak to figure out the most effective way to wind down the scheme and ease people back into work in a measured way.”