The government has extended its wage-subsidy programme for workers until the end of June, which should help ensure many private tenants are among those able to cover their bills, including rental payments.
The decision follows the government’s decision to keep Britain in full lockdown for at least a further three weeks.
The Treasury had to move swiftly to prevent firms triggering statutory redundancy consultations following the news on Thursday that the lockdown would continue.
Nimesh Shah, a partner at tax and advisory firm Blick Rothenberg, welcomed the move.
He said: “This is another great move by the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, and gives workers comfort around their financial position for longer.
“But the increased cost to the government is alarming and questions need to be asked as to how this will be funded in the years to come.”
The Resolution Foundation initially estimated that the coronavirus job retention scheme (JRS) will cost the exchequer £40bn, but this is now likely to increase to about £50bn.
Shah added: “The JRS has been the cornerstone of the government package of support during the COVID-19 crisis.
“When the scheme was first announced, the original cost estimates were around £10bn. With the take-up of the scheme being higher than expected, with almost nine million workers being placed on furlough, that cost estimate was revised upwards to £30bn to £40bn.
“With the extension to the scheme until the end of June, the total cost will be in excess of £50bn.”