Rishi Sunak is to extend furlough. That's already been announced as part of the budget. It is now likely to last until September. There are two things to say.
First, in that case, do not believe that the government thinks Covid 19 will all be over by June. I note this tweet this morning from the Health Services Journal:
NEW: NHS in London asked to plan for ‘possible covid surge later in 2021’ https://t.co/p9raMBamj2
— Alastair McLellan (@HSJEditor) March 3, 2021
I have been told that 'later in 2021' might mean July. Given what is planned, which is guaranteed to increase R in a largely unvaccinated, or at best half-vaccinated population, that seems entirely plausible to me. I think it likely that furlough is going to be needed along with many other measures.
Second, Politico explains the new plan like this in their morning email briefing (which is worth subscribing to):
Between now and June 30, the government will continue to pay 80 percent of wages for furloughed workers up to £2,500 a month. From July 1, the state support will taper off, with the government then paying 70 percent of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50, and employers covering the rest. From August 1, the government will pay 60 percent of wages up to £1,875, with employers having to pick up the remaining 40 percent.
So, just as people can't return to work, and just as their employers feel increasing stress because they cannot reopen as they would wish, the government is calling on those most hard-pressed of employer's to pay more of their employee's wages which, of course, they will not be able to afford to do because if they could they would have those people at work.
To put it another way, this is a car-crash for unemployment in the making. A massive jump in those out of work is coming unless this is changed before July.
I think a lot will change before July. I may be wrong. I hope I am. I fear I am not.