By Arj Singh
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More than 140,000 companies have asked the government to help pay the wages of more than a million workers on the opening day of its furlough scheme, the chancellor has announced.
Rishi Sunak revealed the scale of the applications received between 8am and 4pm on Monday – the opening day of the government’s job retention scheme, which will see the state paying 80% of workers’ wages.
Sunak said the government scheme would help workers who, “if they hadn’t been furloughed, would be at risk of losing their job”.
Firms that applied on Monday would receive their grants in six working days and HM Revenue and Customs will continue to provide updates on the number of furloughed workers.
The scheme sits alongside other measures to help businesses and the self employed through the coronavirus crisis.
Sunak told the daily Downing Street briefing: “We have never seen an economic crisis like this one.
“Times like this demand that we put aside ideology and orthodoxy.
“Times like this demand that the state turns to its most immediate purpose – the protection and support of its people.
“The goal of the schemes we have developed is to maintain as many people as possible in their existing jobs, to support viable businesses to stay afloat and to protect the incomes of the self-employed to allow them to trade again.
“To maintain, in other words, our economy’s productive capacity so that we can bridge through this crisis.
“That is what we have done.”