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Last week the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, extended the Government's furlough scheme – which had been paying 7.5 million laid-off workers 80% of their earnings, extending it from June to October.

Mr Sunak confirmed that employees will continue to receive 80% of their monthly wages up to £2,500 but said the government will ask companies to "start sharing" the cost of the scheme from August.

Some 7.5 million workers are now covered by the scheme, up from 6.3 million at the beginning of May.

The Chancellor told the Commons that from August, the scheme would continue for all sectors and regions of the country but with greater flexibility to support the transition back to work.

Employers currently using the scheme would be able to bring furloughed employees back part-time.

Mr Sunak said he was extending the scheme because he "won't give up on the people who rely on it."

The move, which the Chancellor insisted would avoid the "cliff-edge" cut-off of the scheme feared by MPs and business leaders, is aimed at preventing an estimated 1.2 million redundancies.

Chamber CEO Corin Crane said, "We have been lobbying for an extension of the furlough scheme, alongside our fellow business support agencies, for a number of weeks now, so this news was extremely welcome. Particularly as we are seeing a very cautious approach to reopening the economy, the last thing we want is unnecessary redundancies.

"Research carried out by the British Chambers shows that the scheme has become a key part of wider government support for businesses, with more than 70 per cent of firms surveyed furloughing a portion of their staff.

"The Chancellor has once again listened to what we've been saying, and the changes planned will help businesses bring their people back to work through the introduction of a part-time furlough scheme.

"Over the coming months, the government should continue to listen to business and evolve the scheme in line with what's happening on the ground. Further support may yet be needed for companies who are unable to operate for an extended period or those who face reduced capacity or demand due to ongoing restrictions."

Meanwhile, the Treasury believes firms such as retailers are unlikely to need all of their staff when they first reopen because social distancing rules mean shops will have to be less crowded.


A part-time furloughing scheme, therefore, will allow companies to bring back more staff on a rota and prevent steep cuts.



Last week saw the launch of the Chamber's Quarterly Economic Survey for Q2 2020, the first opportunity for the leading business support agency to survey their members, and the region's businesses, post COVID-19 lockdown, to gain a snapshot of those ever more important issues affecting them.


Policy and Lobbying Manager, Matthew Lowe told Prosper, "We are asking businesses across the region to take just a few minutes to complete the short questionnaire, it is a crucial time for many firms out there and I am eager to hear from as many as possible.


"We are in unchartered waters and are facing very uncertain times. Our QES is the largest and longest-running business survey in the UK and is a powerful tool for representing the voice of business to Government.


"To retain its reputation as a reliable economic indicator and a powerful tool for lobbying, it is vital that as many businesses as possible respond to it.


He continued, "The QES is a truly unique business survey. The largest private-sector business survey in the UK, no other organisation can offer this sort of insight from such a local perspective. We use the survey results to lobby on behalf of our members and raise key policy issues with MPs, local government, and ministerial departments.


"The QES gives us a valuable barometer of the health of the Black Country economy, and as we face such an uncertain future for business and the economy, it has never been more important to hear from the region's firms."


The survey takes around 2 minutes to complete and can be accessed HERE


On a national level, the QES is a leading indicator – often picking up big changes in the economy long before other surveys or official statistics:


Did you know:

The Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee uses the QES as one of its key benchmarks when setting interest rates.

HM Treasury and the independent Office for Budget Responsibility use the QES to put together their forecasts for the UK's economic performance.

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