The Government’s job retention scheme will be extended until the end of March 2021, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced.
The scheme, in which employees receive 80 per cent of their salary up to £2,500 for hours not worked due to business closures, was due to end on 31 October but was extended to cover the month-long lockdown that began in England on Thursday.
Giving a statement in the House of Commons on Thursday, Rishi Sunak said the extension will be reviewed in January, when the Government will “decide whether economic circumstances are improving enough to ask employers to contribute more”.
Though, some have said the measures have come too late, with many furloughed workers already being made redundant in anticipation of the furlough scheme ending in October and so missing out on the extended support.
Sunak acknowledged that some people will be “frustrated”, but insisted he had to make “rapid adjustments” as the spread of Covid-19 has “accelerated.”
The Chancellor went on to call the second lockdown the “only viable solution left to protect our NHS”.
The scheme, while providing support for the employed, has been criticised for not doing enough for self-employed workers.
As of 18 October, the scheme has cost taxpayers more than £41 billion.
Shortly after the extension was announced, Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street took to Twitter to praise the support measures and said the “next four weeks will be very difficult for businesses”.