April 23, 2020 / 8:50 AM / a month ago

Eight in 10 British firms interested in coronavirus furlough scheme - ONS

FILE PHOTO: A man walks past a job centre as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, Stevenage, Britain, March 31, 2020. REUTERS/Peter Cziborra

LONDON (Reuters) - Around eight of every 10 British companies are interested in the government’s offer to pay 80% of the wages of staff who are temporarily laid off, according to a survey published by the country’s official statistics office.

About 70% of companies expressed interest in another part of the government’s coronavirus emergency plan - deferring payments of value-added tax, the Office for National Statistics said on Thursday.

The survey of more than 6,000 companies was conducted between March 23 and April 5 and its headline findings were first published last week.

The ONS on Thursday gave more details of the survey, which included a finding that 82% of firms in the arts, entertainment and recreation sector had paused trading, compared with around 25% for companies across the economy as a whole.

Almost two-thirds of businesses that were continuing to trade said their turnover was lower than normal.

Writing by William Schomberg, editing by Andy Bruce and Timothy Heritage

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