Rishi Sunak cannot just hope other big firms will follow Primark's example | Nils Pratley

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Declining job retention bonus was honourable and underlined £9.4bn scheme’s shockingly poor design

Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, readily conceded last week that there would be a “dead weight” cost to his policy of offering firms a £1,000 bonus for every employee recalled from furlough and kept in employment until the end of next January. That weight is the waste of rewarding firms for doing what they would have done anyway as the economy reopens.

So it is good news, of a sort, for Sunak that some are too embarrassed to take the money. The fashion retailer Primark was first out of the blocks at the weekend. It didn’t need a financial incentive to get 30,000 furloughed staff back in the shops and warehouses, so it would decline the kind offer of £30m of public money. Well played.

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