Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, said:

"The extended support for the self-employed is the right thing to do, and the introduction of more flexible furlough arrangements from 1st July should be some encouragement for those who have been on full-time furlough.

"Some sectors and small businesses will, however, struggle with topping up wages and covering the NI and pension contributions as the furlough subsidies under the job retention scheme are reduced. This will risk an increase in job losses over the summer. It is also increasingly important that Government now develop programs of support to help people who lose their jobs in finding work and developing the skills they need for different employment opportunities in areas of the economy that are growing.

"Businesses must now consider gradual returns to the workplace, looking at flexible options including using reduced hours and freezing pay if necessary to save jobs. However, with more flexibility in the system comes a greater responsibility for businesses to treat their people fairly and keep them safe.

"It is disappointing, however, that no provision has been made for those who started new jobs but missed the cut-off date in March and have lost out on furlough support which was something the CIPD had raised directly with the Chancellor."

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