A Government pay scheme to retain staff who have been placed on leave since 1 March 2020 has gone live, exactly a month after it was announced.
The coronavirus job retention scheme will cover 80% of employees' wages, up to £2,500 a month, if they have been furloughed due to COVID-19.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said:
"Exactly one month ago today, I announced the unprecedented decision to step in and help pay people's wages.
"We promised support would be available by the end of April - today, we deliver our promise. The coronavirus job retention scheme is now live."
The Treasury is able to process up to 450,000 applications an hour from employers, who should receive the money within six working days.
Subject to when an employer submits an application, the emergency funding can be in place before many firms run monthly payroll.
Adam Marshall, director-general at the British Chambers of Commerce, added:
"Businesses can now begin to access the cash they need to pay their staff and protect livelihoods.
"With April's payday approaching, it is essential the application process is smooth and that payments are made as soon as possible.
"Any delay would exacerbate the cash crisis many companies are facing and could threaten jobs and businesses."
Click here to begin the process of applying for the coronavirus job retention scheme.