Chancellor Rishi Sunak is considering cuts to employers’ National Insurance contributions and an extension of the business rates holiday, as he looks for new ways to protect employment.

Describing the protection of jobs as his “number one priority”, his comments come amid calls for a new wage support programme to replace the furlough scheme, which closes at the end of next month.

There are fears of a new wave of job losses tomorrow as businesses serve redundancy notices before the end of the furlough scheme on October 31.

Sunak has said he will not extend the furlough scheme, arguing indefinitely keeping people out of work is ”not the answer”, but said he would act in ”creative and effective ways to support jobs and employment”.

Reducing employers’ national insurance contributions would make it cheaper to keep staff on.

The business rates holiday, which runs until the end of the financial year, is particularly helpful for the hospitality and leisure industries.

Reacting to the news on, UK Hospitality CEO Kate Nicholls said: “These are the other ways to protect jobs while trading is suppressed, businesses and activities are closed or productivity reduced through social distancing - cut overheads and business taxes to avoid companies having to choose between paying them and paying team.”

Leader of the opposition, Keir Starmer has called on the government to replace the furlough scheme, and has made an offer to work on a plan including targeted support for badly-hit sectors.

Sir Keir said: “We all know the furlough scheme can’t go on as it is forever, but the truth is the virus is still with us and infections are increasing.

“It just isn’t possible to get back to work or reopen businesses. It isn’t a choice. It’s the cold reality of this crisis.

“So it makes no sense at all for the government to pull support away now in one fell swoop.”