Britain needs to start tapering its COVID furlough scheme: minister

Britain’s Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs George Eustice speaks during a news conference on the ongoing situation with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in London, Britain March 21, 2020. Jonathan Brady/Pool via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain cannot run its COVID-19 jobs protection scheme indefinitely and needs to start tapering it down as people slowly return to work, environment minister George Eustice said on Friday.

“The furlough scheme has been incredibly important in terms of keeping people on standby and ready to return to work,” he told Sky News. “Clearly as we start to emerge from the lockdown and start to get our economy back to work, we can’t keep people on that furlough scheme indefinitely.”

“We need to start identifying ways of moving them off the furlough scheme and back into work… We need a furlough scheme that can be tapered down as people return to work.”

Reporting by Costas Pitas and Estelle Shirbon; writing by Kate Holton; editing by William Schomberg