‘I begged my old boss to reemploy me four times’: Londoner is left with no income after leaving job the day after lockdown meaning she cannot claim furlough during coronavirus crisis
- Felicity Williams left her job at end of March, due to start a new role on April 1
- Her new employer is unable to furlough her and her old boss has refused to help
- Ms Williams says she has been left unable to pay for food or cover bills and rent
- Have you been furloughed? Let us know. Email [email protected]
- Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID
A young woman has revealed how she has fallen through the cracks of the government’s furlough scheme and unable to pay for food or rent after being left penniless between jobs.
Felicity Williams, from London, left her job at the end of March and was due to start a new role on April 1.
But when the coronavirus pandemic swept the country, her new employer was unable to furlough her – and her old boss has now refused to help her.
Ms Williams told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme she has since been left without the means to pay her bills or food and cannot get Universal Income because she lives with her boyfriend.
First Secretary of State Dominic Raab will reportedly tell the UK this week that lockdown will be extended until May 7
Have you been furloughed?
Have you been furloughed? Let us know. Email [email protected]
What does it mean to be furloughed?
Essentially, if you’re being furloughed by your employer, it means you’re being sent home, but will still receive 80 per cent of your salary by the Government, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.
This Government job retention scheme is only for employed people, it does not apply if you are self-employed.
However, you first need to agree to be put on furlough by your employer, who can then apply for the money to the Government. You cannot apply for it yourself.
Your employer can choose to pay the remaining 20 per cent of your wages, although it is not obliged to do so.
If you earn more than £2,500 a month, your employer can choose to ‘top up’ your salary, but again it is not forced to do so.
You will still continue to pay income tax and national insurance contributions while on furlough.
The Government advice says: ‘If you and your employer both agree, your employer might be able to keep you on the payroll if they’re unable to operate or have no work for you to do because of coronavirus. This is known as being “on furlough”.’
The Coronavirus Job Retention scheme will give people 80 per cent of their usual earnings, meaning they can be furloughed rather than laid off from their firm.
Businesses will be able to pay their employees four-fifths of their regular monthly wage, or £2,500 a month, whichever is lower, until at least June 1.
It forms just one part of a £330 billion emergency support package announced last month to keep the UK economy afloat, and to ensure firms do not have to lay off staff permanently.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has revealed measures over the last three weeks designed to prop up businesses, but many people have had to turn to the benefits system.
Ms Williams told Radio 4 she had approached her previous employer but had been flatly denied any help.
She told the show: ‘Unfortunately my new employers cannot furlough me which leaves me without any income at all.
‘I know the government guidelines are to go back to our last employers and ask them to furlough us.
‘My last working day with them was March 28. I’ve been to them four times now and pleaded with them to reemploy me to and put me on furlough just so I’ve got some sort of income coming in.
‘Every time it’s been a no.
‘Unfortunately because I live with my boyfriend I can’t get universal credit because he has savings and he has an income which doesn’t help me.
‘I have my own bills, my own credit cards, my own loans that I need to pay off.
‘Obviously I froze them for the short term but it’s not going to help me out in terms of paying bills, for food etc.’
Yesterday, a City worker who lost her job due to coronavirus told the show she is ‘now poor’ with just £30 a month left after mortgage payments, and is forced to rely on a foodbank. Volunteers are pictured here at Paddington Foodbank in London as more people are forced to seek out charity groups for basics due to the coronavirus crisis
In other coronavirus news today:
- Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is set to tell the country on Thursday the coronavirus lockdown will last until at least May 7;
- The First Secretary of State, who is deputising for Boris Johnson while the PM recovers from the deadly bug, will tell Britons they face at least three more weeks of restrictions;
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been confirmed to have tested negative for Covid-19;
- Statistics show one in seven people hospitalised with the coronavirus in the UK will die, and survival odds in intensive care are 50/50;
- China revealed it had diagnosed 108 new coronavirus cases on Monday;
- France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, said France must prepare for its lockdown to last ‘well into May’;
- NHS staff may have to start giving people over the age of 65 ‘scores’ based on their health to determine where they sit on the waiting list for intensive care if units become overloaded;
- Former Bank of England governor, Lord Mervyn King, said he was ‘worried’ that only 4,200 companies in the UK have been given crisis loans compared to 725,000 companies in the US;
- Millions of people in Spain have been allowed to return to work as the country eases its lockdown;
- The vast majority of Britons back the Government’s lockdown rules but fear for the future of the economy.
Yesterday, a City worker who lost her job due to coronavirus told the show she is ‘now poor’ with just £30 a month left after mortgage payments.
Under the pseudonym Alice, the woman revealed how she used to shop at Waitrose and Marks and Spencer but was forced to seek out food banks.
‘I was used to having extra money being able to save being able to do my shopping at Waitrose, Marks and Spencer and then all of a sudden going from that to not earning anything – you’re now effectively poor,’ she told the BBC’s Today show on Radio 4.
Before heading out to the foodbank, she had tried to ignore the hunger she felt surviving on two meals a day by listening to podcasts.
‘I would have a bowl of porridge in the morning and then I would have for lunch a bowl of homemade soup, sometimes a couple of slices of toast that was it,’ she said. ‘It was a very, very poor diet – I was constantly hungry.’
She was terrified of going to pick up free food parcels for fear that she would be perceived.
Alice said that the mere thought of visiting the charity gave her heart palpitations as she feared that the volunteers would question why somebody who sounds and looks affluent needed their vital services.
She was relieved when the volunteers came to her aid without any question, as foodbanks now expect people who were previously well-off to be visiting due to coronavirus job losses.
But she said that she’s still too scared to tell her friends and family that she’s relying on charity or to ask for their help, which is why she is using a fake name.
She said: ‘Admitting it to friends and family? Well I haven’t. They know that I’m not working but when they do ask me if I’m doing okay, I say I’m absolutely fine. I should perhaps be more honest and say “well actually, now you mention it”. But you don’t.’
From libretto to Lidl! Opera singer, 27, swaps the stage for shelf-stacking to make ends meet after theatres close for coronavirus lockdown
By Vanessa Allen for the Daily Mail
She is used to more dramatic and less physical roles in front of an enraptured audience.
But opera singer Lara Rebekah Harvey has had to swap the stage for shelf-stacking at Lidl.
The 27-year-old is one of thousands of performers left in the lurch when the coronavirus crisis closed theatres.
Lara Rebekah Harvey has performed around the country and was a soloist at the Royal Albert Hall in London in the 2016 Mountbatten Festival of Music
The mezzo soprano had also just secured a coveted role as a soloist with Opera Holland Park in west London.
But for the last three weeks, she has been working in Lidl stores and warehouses, earning about £9 an hour. ‘It couldn’t be more different,’ she said.
‘My first week was exhausting because it’s very physical and there’s a lot of heavy lifting. But I feel lucky to have a job.
Lara Harvey (pictured) is now working in Lidl but says she’s just happy to have a job during the coronavirus crisis
‘Some colleagues there do know I’m an opera singer and I think they are quite surprised.
‘But although I’m grateful, I can’t wait to get back to opera.’
Miss Harvey has performed around the country and was a soloist at the Royal Albert Hall in London in the 2016 Mountbatten Festival of Music.
Google searches for ‘Universal Credit’, and ‘furlough’ soar as Britons hunt for information on job losses over ‘coronavirus symptoms’
By Mark Duell
Online searches for terms including ‘furlough’, ‘Universal Credit’ and ‘how to claim benefits’ have skyrocketed as the coronavirus crisis worsens.
This month, Britons have been using Google to look up the Government’s guidance on helping firms with furloughed workers to keep them employed but without working.
People suffering financial trouble during the pandemic are also searching ‘Universal Credit’, with nearly a million trying to claim the benefit in the last two weeks.
But searches for ‘coronavirus symptoms’ have fallen recently from a peak in mid-March when the first restrictions on social gatherings were brought in.
The term ‘furlough’ is more common in US employment law, but has entered into UK parlance in recent days as ministers unveiled their plan to help stricken businesses.
These graphs show the relative search levels for ‘Universal Credit’, ‘furlough’ and ‘coronavirus symptoms’ over the past month (top) and past week (bottom). They reveal searches for ‘furlough’ have skyrocketed since March 20, while Universal Credit searches are up in the past three weeks. But searches for ‘coronavirus symptoms’ are now falling from a mid-March peak
Is furloughing workers the best way to save jobs? This is Money podcast
The concept of asking workers to go on furlough lies at the heart of the government’s coronavirus jobs rescue scheme – as it seeks to stall firms making people redundant and offers to pay 80 per cent of their wages up to £2,500 a month.
But is picking up the wage bills of big businesses a wise move, will it help save jobs and is the price worth paying because the cost of not doing it is worse?
On this podcast, Simon Lambert, Lee Boyce and Georgie Frost discuss what it means to be furloughed and whether the emergency plan can work.
Press play above or listen (and please subscribe if you like the podcast) at Apple Podcasts, Acast, Spotify and Audioboom or visit our This is Money Podcast page.
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