RISHI Sunak has extended furlough AGAIN through to the end of March 2021, he revealed today.
The Chancellor confirmed the news to MPs this afternoon after the scheme was continued as a result of the England-wide lockdown which started today.
It means that the scheme will have run for nearly a year by the time it is scheduled to come to an end.
The Chancellor said today: “I can announce today that the furlough scheme will not be extended for one month – it will be extended until the end of March.
“Employees will receive 80% of their usual salary for hours not worked, up to £2,500 a month.”
But the job retention bonus of £1000 for people who keep on employees will be ditched for now.
HOAR revealed today the Chancellor is expected to extend the furlough scheme past 2 December – when the lockdown measures are set to end across England.
The Chancellor will say the furlough scheme will continue to be on offer in any area of the UK that faces the highest level of Covid restrictions – including Tier 3 areas of England.
Furloughed workers will continue to be paid 80 per cent of their wages until March, but the proportion of employer/government contribution will be reviewed in January, according to sources.
It’s likely to cost billions of pounds more – as the Bank of England expects 5.5million to be on furlough in November alone.
And it expects around 2.5million to still need support through to April next year.
The Chancellor will speak to MPs shortly and reveal the full details.
It means that if Scotland or Wales decides to go into another circuit breaker lockdown in future, they will get cash help from the UK Treasury.
Nicola Sturgeon had asked for clarity on whether Scotland would be able to access extra help after the England lockdown was over.
Boris Johnson has said the 28-day lockdown that starts tomorrow will be replaced with the regional approach of Tiers next month, which is likely to see areas such as Greater Manchester stay in the highest Tier 3 restrictions.
But beforehand they weren’t able to access the furlough scheme with 80 per cent pay.
Instead the Chancellor was set to move to the Job Support Scheme, which was less generous at 60 per cent of pay, and would force employers to pay VAT and pensions contributions.
The statement is the latest from the Chancellor, who has repeatedly had to announce extra Covid support over the last few months as lockdown measures keep changing.
He’s repeatedly said it wasn’t “the right thing to do to endlessly extent furlough”.
Businesses were quick to welcome the support, but critics said it was just delaying thousands more job losses into next year.
Simon Lyle UK managing director of outplacement firm Randstad Risesmart said today: “The government is fighting a losing battle against economic reality with programmes like the jobs support scheme and the furlough scheme.
“Meanwhile the plane is running out of fuel – the jobs market can’t fly on indefinitely like this. It will cause economic pain for years to come.”
This morning the Bank of England announced another £150billion of quantitive easing to help Britain’s struggling economy.
The boost is on top of the £100billion cash injection it agreed on in June.
It takes its mammoth quantitative easing (QE) bond-buying programme for the Covid crisis to £875billion.
The Bank’s economic forecasts are even gloomier than expected too, as it slashed its predictions of recovery amid fears the new lockdown will push the UK economy into a double-dip recession.
It’s expected that the impact of the Tiers system and the second lockdowns across the nation will see the economy take another 2 per cent hit this year.
The Bank will keep interest rates at 0.1 per cent – holding off from taking the unprecedented move of negative interest rates for now.