The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has today announced that the furlough scheme will be extended until March.
The Government has been under substantial pressure since announcing furlough would end at the end of October.
The furlough scheme will continue to cover 80% of wages until the end of March, with a review in January to see whether economic conditions would allow for employers to contribute more to employee’s wages.
The Chancellor said:
“Our highest priority remains the same - to protect jobs and livelihoods.”
The Government did extend the furlough scheme to cover the national lockdown that is in place between 5th November and 2nd December, when the Job Support Scheme was due to take over the Job Retention Scheme.
The Government has been criticised for only changing policies at the last moment, for example the “circuit-breaker” lockdown and this extension to furlough, something MPs have called for for months.
The Government reasoned that the furlough scheme may end up supporting unviable jobs by keeping people in employment, when they aren’t likely to have been impacted by Coronavirus restrictions and therefore shouldn’t be using taxpayer money to support unviable businesses – something the IFG highlighted in a report last month.
This announcement comes as the Bank of England announce a further £150bn injected in the UK economy as a stimulus package.
Estimates state that two million people were still reliant on the furlough scheme by the end of October, when the scheme was originally due to end.
The Chancellor also announced that the next round of grants for self employed people will cover 80% of profits with a limit of £7,500.