Chancellor Rishi Sunak will announce a local furlough scheme today designed to support areas in local lockdown, the Times reports.

Ahead of the rumoured closure of pubs and restaurants in northern England next week, the Treasury has confirmed that Sunak will set out additional support later today in which the government will subsidise two thirds of the wages of workers in businesses forced to close.

The local furlough scheme will remain in place for as long as businesses are locked down, and marks a significant improvement to the jobs support set out in the chancellor’s Winter Plan.

“The chancellor will be setting out the next stage of the Job Support scheme later today that will protect jobs and provide a safety net for those businesses that may have to close in the coming weeks and months,” said a Treasury spokesperson.

Responding to the proposed support, UK Hospitality CEO Kate Nicholls has called for an 80% furlough coverage for employees in locked down areas and 66% furlough support for areas with other restrictions to trade. 

“We absolutely support the Government’s tiered approach to protect public health. Our sector has invested heavily to ensure that our venues are the most monitored and COVID-secure of public spaces,” she said.

“The inarguable fact is that all of the restrictions currently in place or under consideration, make it impossible for most venues to operate anywhere near profitably.

“To save jobs and businesses, Government support for hospitality must be at the same levels of the furlough scheme where there are forced closures, and two thirds of wages where curfews and other restrictions are seeing trade hit hard.

“Alongside a new package of grants, this would help to preserve a sector that has the economic might to help drive Britain’s economic recovery, as this morning’s GDP figures demonstrate. It would be reckless to make momentous decisions on our future without protecting the positive investment of the furlough scheme, which has done so much to sustain so many jobs thus far.”