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Number of furloughed workers hits 8.4 million

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The number of furloughed workers in Britain has reached 8.4 million, up from eight million a week ago, Treasury figures show.

Employers are now claiming a total of £15bn to cover the wages of staff who are on temporary leave during the coronavirus lockdown, up from £11.1bn.

Meanwhile, claims made by self-employed workers who are struggling during the pandemic have risen by 300,000 to 2.3 million.

The total value of claims made under the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, which launched on 13 May, is now £6.8bn, up from £6.1bn.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has confirmed the furlough scheme – officially known as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – will continue until the end of October. It was originally due to run until June.

However, the chancellor is expected to announce a cut-off date of the end of July after which companies will not be able to add staff to the scheme.

The scheme, which was introduced to prevent mass lay-offs during the crisis, allows employers to claim for 80% of employees’ salaries, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.

Almost a quarter of UK workers were furloughed by their employers within the first two weeks of the scheme’s launch on 20 April.

The Office for Budget Responsibility says the scheme could cost up to £80bn.



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