More than half of Britain's adults being paid by the government due to Covid-19 crisis

5 May 2020, 10:25 | Updated: 5 May 2020, 10:39

Chancellor Rishi Sunak warned the situation is 'not sustainable'
Chancellor Rishi Sunak warned the situation is 'not sustainable'. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

The state is paying money to just over half of Britain’s 52 million adults, analysis has shown.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak warned the situation is “not sustainable” following the analysis of figures carried out by the Times.

6.3m people are using the coronavirus furlough scheme and 1.8m new claims for Universal Credit have been received.

Taking into account the unemployed, 5.4m public sector workers and 12m pensioners, the state is paying money to just over half of Britain’s adult population because of the coronavirus crisis.

Rishi Sunak said last night: “I’m working, as we speak, to figure out the most effective way to wind down the (furlough) scheme and to ease people back into work in a measured way."

"As some scenarios have suggested, we are potentially spending as much on the furlough scheme as we do on the NHS, for example. Clearly that is not a sustainable situation." 

Boris Johnson is expected to reveal the ‘roadmap’ for bringing the country out of lockdown on Sunday but it is expected to remain until the end of the month.

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The government furlough scheme allows employers to claim taxpayer money to pay 80 per cent of each staff member’s wages up to £2,500 per month.

It is designed to stop companies from having to slash their workforce. Furloughed workers are not allowed to carry out any work for their company.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith told the Times “This proves that we have to now be looking to unlock the lockdown urgently because this is unsustainable for much longer.”

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