Chancellor Rishi Sunak has confirmed over 140,000 business have applied for grant funding as part of the coronavirus job retention scheme.
Her Majesty’s Revenues and Customs (HMRC) opened up applications for the scheme at 8am today (April 20) with more than a million jobs estimated to have been saved.
Companies large and small across the nation have been furloughing workers in a bid to avoid axing staff.
It comes as the UK lockdown has already been extended until at least May 7.
Speaking at today’s daily briefing, Mr Sunak said: “HMRC opened the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme at eight o’clock this morning. As of four o’clock this afternoon, over 140,000 firms have applied and the grants they will receive will help pay the wages of more than a million people.
“A million people who if they hadn’t been furloughed would have been at risk of losing their job.
“Firms applying today should receive their cash in six working days. HMRC will continue to provide updates on the number of people furloughed.”
Mr Sunak said the goal of the new schemes was to maintain “our economy’s productive capacity so that we can bridge through this crisis”.
But the chancellor refused to be drawn on the cost of the furlough scheme or whether it would be extended again.
He told the press conference: “We don’t have an estimate of take up yet – it’s just the first day the scheme is open and I expect those numbers to continue to increase over the coming days.”
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