COVID19 20 April 2020 Firms should only use furlough scheme if they absolutely have to, says Dowden Sign UpGet the New Statesman's Morning Call email. Sign-up Businesses should only use the government's newly opened coronavirus furlough scheme if they cannot afford to carry on paying staff themselves, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has said. He urged businesses to "ask themselves: do they have to rely on the taxpayer?", and said the scheme, which pays up to 80 per cent of workers' wages if they have been temporarily laid off, is designed only to support staff who would have otherwise been made redundant. The official website for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme says that "it is designed to help employers whose operations have been severely affected by coronavirus (Covid-19) to retain their employees and protect the UK economy. However, all employers are eligible to claim under the scheme and the government recognises different businesses will face different impacts from coronavirus." Dowden, speaking to ITV this morning, was asked to comment on reports that Victoria Beckham's fashion company was using the scheme. "I don’t know the details of her fashion business. I’m not going to comment on each one in turn, but the clear principle is: you should only be using it if you have to," he said. › Deaths in Europe continue downward trend Subscribe For more great writing from our award-winning journalists subscribe for just £1 per month!