Theatre News

Chancellor Rishi Sunak extends job retention scheme for full-time employees until October

Changes to the scheme will take place at the end of July


The chancellor RIshi Sunak has updated the UK on the future of job retention scheme, which is being used up and down the country to subsidise wages, including within the creative sector.

Earlier this month the National Theatre's artistic director Rufus Norris said that theatres would not be able to cope without continued support from the government during the lockdowns.

Seven and a half million jobs have been furloughed, with one million businesses supported thusfar, according to government statistics.

Sunak has said that "the job retention scheme will be extended, for four months, until the end of October", with no changes to the scheme taking place before the end of July.

After July and until October, "the scheme will continue, for all sectors and regions of the UK, but with greater flexibility to support the transition back to work". From August, "employers currently using the scheme will be able to bring furloughed employees back part-time", but that the government will "ask employers to start sharing, with the government, the costs of paying people's salaries."

The value of the support will not be altered, though, as stated above, the cost of it will now be shared by employers and the government. Further details on the scheme are to be announced by the end of the month.

Earlier today, Equity sent an open letter to the chancellor saying that "the majority of theatres, pubs, comedy clubs and other live entertainment venues across the country will not start to open their doors until early next year – if indeed they manage to survive until then."

In the House of Commons, Greater Manchester MP Kate Green MP highlighted the role of the creative industries and that it will be "among the last" to return after lockdown. She then asked Sunak whether or not the industry would still be supported "as long as needed" – Sunak stated that culture secretary Oliver Dowden was working on strategies to support creativity in the coming months, and did not elaborate on the future of the SEISS (Self Employed Income Support Scheme).