00 Sunak popped into the NTI newsroom on his way over to the Commons to give Billy an 'exclusive' about his new Jobs Support Scheme to top-up wages and replace the furlough scheme for the coming winter months. Billy was all ready to push the button and give NTI a huge jump on our supposed news-media-competitors when his former girlfriend, known simply as 'P', called him from Tottenham police station where she was being held simultaneously against a wall and her will. He immediately scribbled out a placard, got on his bike, pedalled furiously to Tottenham and placed himself outside the door of the nick; until a massive hail storm hit and he felt chilly in just his t-shirt and a pair of Adidas shorts, and cycled back.
He's now in the office and informs us that Rishi told him businesses can keep employees on shorter hours under the scheme, running for six months from November, but they must work a third of their usual hours, paid as normal by their employer. When they are not working, the employer will pay a third of their usual pay, and the Government will match it with another third. The Treasury says this will leave workers with 77 per cent of their usual pay.
As he left the building and got into the back of his official Renault Twingo that was parked outside our offices with its engine running, 00 Sunak shouted up at Billy: "The scheme will run for six months starting in November and employers retaining furloughed staff on shorter hours can claim both the Jobs Support Scheme and the Jobs Retention bonus."
Billy shouted back: "'Ere, RS, how about me? Can I not work and still claim this?"
"Shut-up, Billy," Rishi responded, "The scheme will support viable jobs. To make sure of that employees must work at least a third of their normal hours and be paid for that work as normal by their employer."
00 Sunak's driver gunned the engine, but Billy managed to shoot out one more question: "Would you say, RS, that our economy is now likely to undergo a more permanent adjustment. The sources of our economic growth and the kinds of jobs we create will adapt and evolve to the new normal. Our plan will then need to adapt and evolve in response. Above all, we need to face up to the trade offs and hard choices Coronavirus presents and there has been no harder choice than to end the furlough scheme? Rishi. RISHI?"
The last thing we heard as the Twingo took the corner on two wheels, was: "Your words, Billy, not mine."