Furlough scheme extended until end of March

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said support available to people in all parts of UK

THE UK Government’s furlough scheme is to be extended until the end of March, chancellor Rishi Sunak has confirmed.

Speaking in the House of Commons today (November 5), Sunak said the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), which currently pays 80% of salaries up to £2500 a month for people unable to work, will continue until March; it will be reviewed in January, he said, “to decide whether economic circumstances are improving enough to ask employers to contribute more”. Sunak also announced that the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will be increased, with the third grant covering November to January calculated at 80% of average trading profits, up to £7500.

The furlough scheme was originally due to end on October 31 and was subsequently extended until December 2, coinciding with the four-week lockdown in England, which begins today. That drew fire from the Scottish Government – and other devolved administrations – which called for assurance that the support would be available beyond December 2 should a national lockdown be implemented north of the border.

Confirming the extension of the scheme until the end of March today, Sunak said he wanted to “reassure” the people of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales that the furlough scheme was developed “by the government of the United Kingdom on behalf of all the people in the United Kingdom” and will be available across the UK.

“I’ve always said I would do whatever it takes to protect jobs and livelihoods across the UK – and that has meant adapting our support as the path of the virus has changed,” he said.

“It’s clear the economic effects are much longer lasting for businesses than the duration of any restrictions, which is why we have decided to go further with our support.

“Extending furlough and increasing our support for the self-employed will protect millions of jobs and give people and businesses the certainty they need over what will be a difficult winter.”

The chancellor also announced an increase in funding available for the devolved administrations from £14 billion to £16bn, which he said will mean an additional £1bn for the Scottish Government, taking the total to £8.2bn.