April 23, 2020 / 8:56 AM / a month ago

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

FILE PHOTO: Canary Wharf is seen with the O2 arena, illuminated blue in support of NHS and other key workers as the number of coronavirus cases increases globally, London, Britain, April 2, 2020. REUTERS/Paul Childs/File Photo

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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