The UK Government’s furlough scheme will be extended until the end of March, Rishi Sunak has announced.
In a major U-turn by the Government, the chancellor said the five month extensions was needed because of the economic situation caused by the pandemic.
It follows several days of confusion over whether support would be offered to Scottish workers should further lockdown measures be introduced.
After a week of pressure from the devolved governments and businesses, the Chancellor revised his initial furlough offer – which tied in with England’s month-long shutdown – and extended the scheme until the end of March.
Support for the self-employed will also be increased, with grants of up to £7,500 on offer.
The upfront guaranteed funding for the devolved administrations is increasing from £14bn to £16bn.
This Treasury is, has been, and will always be, the Treasury for the whole of the United Kingdom. pic.twitter.com/apwPmNKQrb
— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) November 5, 2020
Mr Sunak said: “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.
“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.”
Mr Sunak said the Government’s highest priority remains “to protect jobs and livelihoods”.
He had previously extended the furlough throughout November due to the second national lockdown in England.
The Chancellor told the Commons: “We can announce today that the furlough scheme will not be extended for one month, it will be extended until the end of March.
“The Government will continue to help pay people’s wages up to 80% of the normal amount.
“All employers will have to pay for hours not worked is the cost of employer NICs and pension contributions.
“We will review the policy in January to decide whether economic circumstances are improving enough to ask employers to contribute more.”
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