Furlough scheme to be extended until March

The furlough scheme has been extended until the end of March, the Chancellor confirmed today (Thursday).

Speaking in the House of Commons, Rishi Sunak revealed that the job retention scheme will carry on into the spring, paying up to 80 per cent of wages for people who are no longer working.

The scheme had already been extended until December, in line with the second lockdown, but the extension will be a relief for many struggling businesses and employers.

Mr Sunak said: “Our highest priority remains the same: to protect jobs and livelihoods, that’s why we’ve already decided to extend the job retention scheme until December.

"But people and businesses will want to know what comes next, how long we plan to keep the scheme open and on what terms.

“They want certainty, the Government’s intention is for the new health restrictions to remain only until the start of December, but as we saw from the first lockdown the economic effects are much longer-lasting for businesses and areas than the duration of any restrictions.

“Given the significant uncertainty, a worsening economic backdrop and a need to give people and businesses security through the winter, I believe it is right to go further.

“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 peoples wages up to 80 per cent of the normal amount."

For hours not worked, employers will only have to pay employer national insurance and pension contributions.

Mr Sunak added that self-employed people would be receiving an income support grant for November to January that will be increased to 80 per cent of profits up to £7,500.

There will be a review in January to see if the economy has improved enough to ask employers to contribute more.

The Chancellor had also previously announced that business premises forced to close in England are to receive grants worth up to £3,000 per month. Mortgage payment holidays have also been extended.

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