The furlough scheme, implemented to support businesses throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, was launched locally and across the country on 20 March.

The launch of the scheme coincided with many business across Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield being forced to close.

A few short days later, all shops deemed “non-essential” were ordered to cease trading and local people were asked to remain in their homes unless their journey was important.

The plans were finalised following extensive discussions with the country’s economic stakeholders and representative groups, resulting in the Government pledging to pay 80% of staff salaries as long as they were kept on by their employer.

The allowance was capped at £2,500 a month.

According to HMRC data, the number of roles placed on furlough peaked at 8.9m at the beginning of May, before gradually falling until the end of July, when restrictions started to slowly ease.

With the scheme set to end, that figure today is estimated at around 3.3m, which equates to more than 10% of the total UK workforce.

Meanwhile, many who were retained have seen their working hours reduced.

It is estimated that the Coronavirus has so far cost the UK Government £200bn, with a fifth of that spent on the furlough scheme.

This has forced the Government to borrow more, which will likely have an economic impact on public spending for many years to come.

Younger people have also accounted for a disproportionately large percentage of those placed on furlough, although efforts have been made to support businesses in hiring apprentices.

There have been calls for the scheme to be extended, but Chancellor Rishi Sunak has stated his position that the scheme cannot simply be “extended endlessly”.

Furlough will be replaced from November by the job support scheme, at a cost of £300m a month to the Government.

This scheme does not offer the same level of financial support, but it is hoped that the new initiative will ease the impact of furlough being stopped.

A spokesperson for the Resolution Foundation think-tank believes that the furlough scheme was “a very successful and well-implemented policy intervention”.

They added: “It has supported household incomes in the face of an unprecedented shock and maintained the crucial attachment between employees and their employer.”

Is your business prepared for life after furlough?

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