MP for Winchester and Chandler’s Ford Steve Brine has said that flexibility is key to the future of the furlough scheme.

The MP has been liaising with local businesses making use of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme during the Covid-19 outbreak as they cautiously look to the future.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Monday, he said: “If we are to avoid a cliff edge as the furlough scheme draws to the end of its life, in original form anyway, flexibility has to be the key. Flexibility on the percentage paid by the state perhaps but only if that goes hand in hand with flexibility around the no work rule for furloughed workers. And flexibility on sectors too if the Treasury goes down that route because many businesses cross over different parts of the economy.”

Mr Brine told the Hampshire Chronicle he is especially anxious to avoid a situation where businesses reopen but immediately become responsible for 100 per cent of their wage bill meaning workers go from furlough to redundancy in one move.

His speech also once again called on Ministers to look afresh at the help offered to self-employed workers, especially those who are new to self-employment, earning over the £50,000 threshold or company directors who currently find themselves ineligible.

“The solution may not be elegant but we have to get help to people now,” he told MPs.

The furlough scheme is currently supporting 7.5 million workers through the coronavirus crisis will be extended until the end of October. The scheme - which pays 80 per cent of a worker’s salary up to a £2,500 monthly cap - will remain unchanged until the end of July and then continue with employers expected to start footing some of the multi-billion pound bill.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak told MPs that from August there will be greater flexibility in order to allow furloughed staff to begin returning to work.

And the MP paid tribute to the team at Winchester Hospital who he praised for “as always going above and beyond” to care for patients during the pandemic.