Chancellor Rishi Sunak is having a busy day today. Not only is he making his speech to the Conservative Party conference later this morning, but he’s already been doing the rounds of morning interviews. So far, he hasn’t ruled out wanting to cut taxes at some point. He’s also faced a few tough questions about the supply chain crises and the revelations unveiled in the Pandora Papers. But given that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ended on 30th September, one question both employees and employers are keen to ask is this: “What happens after Furlough?”

No extension to the furlough scheme

In recent weeks, business groups and unions have urged the Chancellor to extend the Furlough Scheme. However, he has resisted this. Instead, Rishi Sunak is expected to announce a raft of measures in his speech today. These are being trailed as interventions to help cushion the impact for employers and employees now that Furlough has ended.

What measures will be announced?

Until we hear the Chancellor’s speech in full, we won’t know whether he has kept a few tricks up his sleeve. If he has, we’ll report on any relevant announcements later this week.

However, what we do know from this morning’s press reports is that Mr Sunak will announce a £500m extension to ‘Plan for Jobs’. This package of measures offers a range of support for job seekers, the self-employed and business owners.

It’s believed that the Chancellor wants to target this money at a range of groups. These include giving support in finding work to the over 50s and those who have come off Furlough. This will include one-to-one support from Jobcentres.

What happens for employers after Furlough?

The Chancellor is expected to announce an extension to the incentive payment scheme for employers hiring new apprentices. This scheme offers £3,000 payments for firms who take on new apprentices. The final qualifying date for hiring apprentices was 30th September 2021. It’s thought that Mr Sunak will extend this date to 31st January 2022.

Will any other help be available?

The Chancellor has ignored pressure to extend the £20 Universal Credit uplift, which ends on 6th October. Instead the government will launch a £500m hardship fund to support poorer families. This will be managed by local authorities, which will be able to authorise small grants to help with food, clothing and utilities.

What about investment?

We won’t have full details until after the Chancellor’s speech, but it’s thought he will focus on plans to invest in skill and infrastructure. According to the Guardian, Mr Sunak will say:

“We are going to make this country not just a scientific superpower, not just the best place in the world to do business, I believe we’re going to make the UK the most exciting place on the planet”.

“What happens after Furlough?” – key takeaways

The Chancellor is clearly keen to cushion the blow many will feel now Furlough has ended. However, the measures he will announce are on a much smaller scale than the generous support packages we’ve seen during the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, the government’s focus is clearly shifting from saving jobs to helping people find new ones.

In the meantime, we’ll be tuning into the full speech later this morning. We’ll report back with any further announcements that may affect our clients.

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About Jon Pryse-Jones

Since joining THP in 1978, Jon Pryse-Jones has been hands on with every area of the business. Now specialising in strategy, business planning, and marketing, Jon remains at the forefront of the growth and development at THP.

An ideas man, Jon enjoys getting the most out of all situations, “I act as a catalyst for creative people and encourage them to think outside the box,” he says, “and I’m not afraid of being confrontational. It often leads to a better result for THP and its clients.”

Jon’s appreciation for THP extends to his fellow team members and the board.  “They really know how to run a successful business,” he says.  He’s keen on IT and systems development as critical to success, and he continues to guide THP to be at the cutting edge and effective.

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