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Furlough scheme extended until end of March, chancellor announces

Written by on 5 November 2020

The furlough scheme will be extended until the end of March, the chancellor has announced.

The scheme, in which employees receive four-fifths of their current salary up to a maximum of GBP2,500 of hours not worked, was originally scheduled to end last month.

But it was extended when Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a new four-week lockdown in England last weekend.

Addressing MPs in the Commons on Thursday, Rishi Sunak announced a further extension into next year.

He confirmed the payments would remain at 80% of people’s wages, with a review of the policy in January.

This would “decide whether economic circumstances are improving enough to ask employers to contribute more”, Mr Sunak said.

The chancellor also announced support for the self-employed, with the next income support grant for November to January increasing to 80% of average profits up to GBP7,500.

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“Our highest priority remains the same: to protect jobs and livelihoods,” he told MPs.

And in an attempt to pre-empt criticism over another U-turn, Mr Sunak said he needed to make “rapid adjustments” to the government’s economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic because of how the virus has spread.

“I know that people watching at home will have been frustrated by the changes the government has brought in during the past few weeks,” he said.

“I have had to make rapid adjustments to our economic plans as the spread of the virus has accelerated.”