(Bloomberg) --

The U.K. spent 69 billion pounds ($95 billion) paying the wages of furloughed workers by the time the program came to an end last month, according to government figures.

The total cost of subsidizing lost earnings touched 97 billion pounds when grants to self-employed workers hit by the pandemic are included, the Office for National Statistics data published Thursday show.

The job support programs were the centerpiece of a government response to the Covid-19 crisis, which is estimated to have cost taxpayers more than 370 billion pounds. That’s driven the budget deficit to levels not seen during British peacetime.

The furlough program, which paid up to 80% of a full-time wage to people whose workplaces were closed during the pandemic, supported almost 12 million jobs at various times. An estimated 1 million people were still furloughed when the program finished on Sept. 30, although a relatively small number of them are expected to end up unemployed.

In September, the cost of the so-called Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme declined to 740 million pounds, the lowest figure of the pandemic. In the early stages of the crisis, the bill was totaling over 10 billion pounds a month.


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