Responding to confirmation that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is to be extended by six months, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said:

“Although still short of the support provided by competitor nations, these extra months of furlough support offer some stability in the rocky months ahead.

“We’ll keep looking for an extension to 2022 because there is still tremendous uncertainty out there.

“We also urge the chancellor to do more to repair the economic conditions further by stabilising household incomes.

“Furloughed workers have been living with a twenty per cent cut in their wages for the best part of a year now, amassing hefty debts. This will need to be addressed by government because depressed incomes will hold back the recovery, further cementing inequality.

“But I also direct this call to employers: work with us now to avert a jobs crisis between now and September. Let’s use these months to do all we can to build back demand because the huge task before us now is to keep people in work and off the dole.”