Britain has extended its job retention scheme by four months.
The costly centerpiece of efforts to limit damage to the economy, it will now run to the end of October.
Speaking in parliament Tuesday (May 12), finance minister Rishi Sunak said the spending was well worth it:
"Seven and a half million jobs have been furloughed. Jobs we could have lost if we had not acted. Nearly a million businesses supported, who could have closed shop for good.”
The scheme pays 80% of the wages of workers who have been temporarily laid off.
About 7.5 million people are benefiting.
But Sunak warned employers that the programme won't last forever.
It’s costing about the same as the country’s National Health Service - ten billion pounds a month, or over 12 billion dollars.
Business will have to share the burden:
"It's crystal clear that those on the scheme have the reassurance that the level of support they receive will not be changed, it will now be shared, those wages and support by the government and employers.
From August the funding will become more flexible, with a view to helping firms bring employees back part-time.
Though it is having an impact, few think the scheme will be enough to stop a big rise in unemployment.