CEO of Next warns firms risk getting 'hooked' on furlough and it WON'T stop thousands of job losses

BRITAIN faces thousands of job losses and firms risk getting "hooked" on furlough, the chief of retail giant Next has warned.

Lord Wolfson said thousands of jobs may now be "unviable" as high-streets disappear and Brits shop online, after Chancellor Rishi Sunak vowed to only save jobs which give people "genuine security".

Lord Wolfson told BBC Radio 4 he did not think retail would not have to dip into Mr Sunak's new replacement for the furlough scheme – the job support scheme.

Under the new programme, those working at least a third of their normal hours will receive 77 per cent of their salary, capped at £697.92 per month, with the Government forking out 22 per cent of wages.

Lord Wolfson said: "We think there are other sectors that desperately (need it).

"I think its important that employers are having to pay a little bit more for these schemes, and the employees get a little bit less.

"Otherwise I think there's a risk our economy will just become a little bit hooked on it."

"I think that is right and I wouldn't want to underestimate the difficulty that is going to cause a lot of people who work in retail."

Mr Sunak warned yesterday that the new scheme is only designed to protect "viable jobs" for industries where demand has plummeted during lockdown, but will still be able to make it through the difficult winter months.

That means industries forced to stay shut entirely – such as night clubs – may miss out on the extra help, and Government support dives from paying 80 per cent of an employee's wage on the furlough scheme to just over 20 per cent.


And the Chancellor said it was “impossible” to know how many jobs would be saved by the new support – and that it was a tragedy roles were being cut.

But he insisted it will “help protect as many as possible” by keeping people in part-time work.

The retail chief said that as even more Brits had swapped over to online shopping during the pandemic and it was "inevitable" that jobs were going to be lost on high streets.

When asked if many jobs in retail would simply be "unviable", as the Chancellor put it yesterday, Lord Wolfson said: "I think that is right. I wouldn't want to underestimate the difficulty that is going to cause a lot of people who work in retail.

"I think it's going to be very uncomfortable for a lot of people. We will inevitably, and we have already, reduced the number of people working in our shops and I expect that to continue as the demand for retail goes down."

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