Furlough scheme will protect more than a million UK jobs

COVID-19 UPDATE – Monday 20 April

The chancellor, Rishi Sunak led Monday’s press conference from Downing Street, and was joined by deputy chief scientific scientist Angela McLean and public health specialist Yvonne Doyle.

  • PPE – all countries face similar “international challenge” 
  • Data show that new confirmed infections are "flattening out"
  • Furlough scheme will protect more than a million UK jobs

The government is working hard to get whatever the NHS needs

The first point addressed by Rishi Sunak was PPE procurement. This is universally difficult and the government is working hard to get whatever the NHS needs. The government is "working to resolve the Turkish shipment following unexpected delays" and today "unloaded 140,000 gowns from Myanmar". He said "every possible option" is being explored in order to procure PPE.

Job retention scheme opened today

Rishi Sunak said that in excess of 140,000 firms have applied for grants to cover furloughed employees' pay. This will help them go back to their jobs as soon as social distancing measures allow.

This morning, HMRC chief executive told the BBC's Today programme that employers had made 67,000 job claims in the first half hour.

However, the chancellor later conceded that the economic outlook is challenging. He repeated a previous statement that he cannot guarantee that every single job and business will be saved.

He stated that the job retention scheme and other frameworks will strengthen the economic recovery and that he intends it to be as "strong as possible".

Lockdown continues

Today was the seventh day in a row that numbers of COVID-19 patients in hospitals have decreased.

Approximately 18,000 patients are in hospital, which leaves capacity for more, if needed.

However, when asked about the relaxing of lockdown conditions, the chancellor stated the government’s “crystal clear” stance on this. Any thought that we are close to lifting current restrictions is “wrong”.