The chancellor’s plans will need to be strengthened if they are to work. But he struck the right note. Conservative MPs will notice the contrast with Boris Johnson
As soon as Covid-19 cases began to rise again, forcing fresh public health controls and new restrictions on economic activity for another six months, another package of Treasury measures to protect jobs was inevitable. There is nothing unique about this. Similar packages have been introduced across Europe. The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, duly delivered one for Britain on Thursday. It bore little resemblance to the kind of measures he had been hoping to announce in his putative post-pandemic autumn budget. That budget has now been postponed until next year.
Thursday was instead the third Covid emergency budget of Mr Sunak’s dramatic chancellorship. The furlough scheme will close at the end of October. UK unemployment is already rising in anticipation and amid the recession, with Whitbread among the latest to announce big job cuts. So Mr Sunak either had to extend the furlough scheme, which is very expensive, or provide a robust new scheme. He has chosen to try the latter. But the package should have come sooner to minimise job losses.