The government’s furlough scheme will be extended until the end of March, chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced.

Speaking in the commons this afternoon (5 November), Sunak said the policy will be reviewed in January to see if employers can contribute more, but as it stands businesses will be able to continue to claim 80% of staff wages through the Jobs Retention Scheme – up to £2,500pcm - if they are forced to remain shut after the second lockdown comes to an end.

The JRS was set to be replaced this month with the less generous Job Support Scheme (JSS) but in light of the second national lockdown this decision was reversed, with the JRS initially reintroduced last week to run through the month-long lockdown.

Alongside the JRS extention, the Chancellor confirmed that the Job Retention Bonus – a £1,000 payment to firms for retaining furloughed staff until the end of January – would be scrapped.

Additional support is also being provided to the self-employed through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), with the third grant increasing from 55% to 80% of average profits, up to a maximum of £7,500.

Following calls from Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon for additional support, the Chancellor also announced an increase in the upfront guarantee of funding for the devolved administrations from £14bn to £16bn, and assured Scottish, Irish and Welsh ministers that the furlough scheme would be available for them until March.

“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,” said Sunak.

“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.”

Hospitality leaders and trade bodies have welcomed the extension, but warned that without a clear roadmap and additional support it won’t be enough.

 

 

 

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