October 31 is the scariest date in the calendar.

Hallowe’en may well be all but cancelled this year but the date marks the coming of another horror show that is haunting houses across the land.

It is the date when the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, commonly known as furlough, comes to an end.

It was a necessary and expensive government intervention that has paid the wages of around nine million people in the UK.

There are around a quarter of a million people in Scotland estimated to still be on furlough when the scheme closes today.

Many people have already lost their jobs and many are going back on Monday to businesses with not yet enough work to sustain the workforce they had before lockdown in March.

Initially the scheme was for three months, then when it was evident that the economic recovery was going to take longer ,and many still had no work to go to, it was extended.

It has meant the state had paid 80% of the wages for people for seven months at a cost of around £40bn so far.

As the scheme comes to an end, and it’s scaled down replacement is considered wholly inadequate for many firms for whom the work simply does not exit yet, there is a real danger staring the country in the face.

Of those in Scotland still furloughed, almost 250,000 men and women, many are staring redundancy in the face.

Much of the focus recently has been on the hospitality industry, which is suffering immensely, but this crisis extends much further and goes a whole lot deeper, affecting almost every industry in every city , town and county of the UK.

With the end of furlough there is a potential tsunami of unemployment ready to engulf the country.

For the last six months the furlough scheme has allowed people unable to go to work to still pay mortgages and rent.

Still able to heat their homes and feed themselves and their families and have some money left to spend on those industries and local businesses that were still open, and so helping keep other people in work.

Taxes were still paid on the furlough wages, allowing the government to recoup some of the outlay.

Unless there is continued economic support for these workers and their companies there will be people put out of work on a scale not seen since the 1980s’ and potentially will be even worse.

Some people say that we cannot afford to continue with the level of government support.

It is unlikely any of those people saying that are those who are staring unemployment in the face right now.

We cannot afford not to continue with the intervention.

As well as the cost of benefits the loss of tax income, the millions of pounds taken out of the economy at a stroke will impact on many other sectors and a catastrophic downward spiral of unemployment will be unleashed.

Either way the economic damage caused by the lockdown measures to try and control coronavirus is going to cost the country and it will take a long time to recover.

So we either spend money on a broken social security system that is neither social not secure and leads to many other societal problems that cost even more in the long term.

Or we put in place a level of continued income protection sufficient to stop people being put out of work.

The argument against state intervention in these situation is often money doesn’t grow on trees. There is no magic money tree.

Well, where does it come from then and how is it, money can always be found when governments want to find it. (You can add in your own choice of white elephant or undeserving drain on resources here).

As always, it will be those who can least afford it who will be hardest hit by the end of the furlough scheme.

But here’s one way of looking at it.

Just like with the lockdown measures that were imposed on the country that we have been urged to stick with for a bit longer, if we were to give up now then what was the point of all the sacrifices of the spring and summer.

We have to keep going for another few months and hope that the vaccines that are being developed are effective and safe and are delivered soon.

Similarly, if we are to dump a quarter of a million people in Scotland, and many more in the whole of the UK on the dole, what was the point of spending all that money on the furlough scheme. Delaying the inevitable?

We have come this far and we can protect people for longer.

Yes, we will all be paying for it in the longer term. We will be anyway with the measures, so far.

If we are not willing to take a share of the cost over the long term to prevent serious hardship befalling even more people than we have at present, then can we really call ourselves a society.

So, come on Rishi, what’s another few billion pounds among taxpaying friends.

Think of it as an investment. It is the alternative alternative brings costs.

What are you going to choose when millions are at your door, trick or treat?