200,000 more people on leave in February
Another 200,000 people were put on leave for the first time last month as the government paid nearly £ 4 billion to cover salaries.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said it has paid out £ 57.7 billion in holiday cash to around 11.4 million people since the start of the pandemic.
The time off program has helped employees who were unable to work due to lockdowns and other restrictions caused by Covid-19. It covered up to 80% of the wages of these workers, reducing the strain on personal finances.
About 4.7 people were still on leave at the end of February, according to new figures.
Firms also received support over the past month, borrowing an additional £ 2.2 billion from three Treasury guaranteed loan programs.
The banks provide the money for the loans, but the government has promised to cover 80 to 100% of the loans in case the companies are unable to repay them.
In the month to March 21, an additional £ 1.3bn was loaned in Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans (CBILS) and around £ 900m in rebound loans, which are helping smaller businesses .
It brings the total loaned by the two programs – and through CLBILS, a program aimed at large companies – to £ 75.1 billion since their introduction between March and May of last year.
Craig Beaumont, Head of External Affairs at the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “1.6 million small businesses have now been helped to continue through a terrible year by securing rebound loans. As the unlocking progresses, the economic recovery will rely on the successor scheme to pull all the cylinders. “
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said, “I said we would do whatever it takes to protect jobs and livelihoods and that’s exactly what we did.
“I am delighted that our Bounce Back Loan program has worked so effectively that it has issued three loans per minute since its launch last May. This means that every 20 seconds a hard-working small business owner has benefited from this support.
“We will continue to protect jobs with our new stimulus loan program – part of our larger jobs plan – as we emerge from this crisis.”