Rishi Sunak was always going to be in the spotlight on July 1 since it’s the day the Government’s furlough scheme starts drawing to a close.

And yet, the Chancellor has made headlines for more personal reasons than his spearheading of the job support scheme.

No, he’s not been caught doing anything untoward on CCTV, although he has appeared in a widely-circulated snap...

This one he happily posed for, however, as he introduced a cuddly new addition to Number 11.

That’s right, the Tory MP has got himself a brand new Labrador puppy.

The father-of-two has often spoken of his daughters’ love of Boris Johnson’s dog Dilyn so, finally, the Sunak family have got their own.

Posting on Twitter on Wednesday night, the 41-year-old wrote simply: “Meet Nova,” alongside a picture of himself beaming at his cuddly companion.

If there’s one thing we know social media likes it’s baby animals – and if there’s one thing we know it doesn’t like, it’s politicians trying to distract from major issues.

Unfortunately for Sunak, a number of critics have responded to his proud announcement by accusing him of trying to divert people’s attention from more pressing matters:

Meanwhile, other commentators have been divided in their response:

The Chancellor’s introduction of his undeniably adorable pup comes as employers begin to shoulder more of the cost of the flagship job retention scheme.

Affected staff will continue to receive 80 per cent of their wages, but employers will foot part of the bill for the first time since furlough was introduced.

The change will affect an estimated 1.5 million UK workers, with older employees at higher risk of unemployment.

The Resolution Foundation said more than one in four workers aged 55-64 who were furloughed during the recent lockdown remained so in May despite the reopening of the economy.

There has been a rapid return to work in recent months, and a welcome boost to living standards, said the think tank.

The rapid fall in furlough rates has been driven by the reopening of sectors like hospitality and leisure, which disproportionately employ younger workers, according to the report.

Younger people have returned from furlough more quickly, resulting in older workers bearing the highest risk of being out of work longer, the foundation explained.

Its research indicated that more than 600,000 workers aged 45-64 have been unemployed or on full furlough for at least six months.

Labour has called for support measures to be extended as long as restrictions to combat Covid-19 remain in place.

Shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Bridget Phillipson told BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme: “It doesn’t make any sense given that we have had to delay the easing of restrictions because of the Government’s handling of the border problem to then expect businesses to be paying more at a point at which they’re at a really difficult time.

“For the Government to expect them to be contributing more at this point risks tipping them over the edge.”

However, the Treasury argues that its furlough funding has been and remains "substantial".

"We deliberately went long with our support to provide certainty to people and businesses over the summer,” a department spokesperson said.

"The furlough scheme is in place until September and is amongst the most generous schemes in the world.”

Please log in or register to upvote this article
The Conversation (0)