Chancellor extends furlough scheme to March

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced that the furlough scheme will be extended until the end of March, amid increased measures for business support as the UK enters a four-week lockdown.

Payments are set to remain at 80% of employee’s wages. It comes as the chancellor said that it was “right to go further” in the government’s efforts to support businesses through the crisis. 

Sunak also announced a doubling of the self-employment grant to 80%, worth up to a maximum of £7,500, for December and January.

The latest extension to support measures will be reviewed in January, however, to “decide whether economic circumstances are improving enough to ask employers to contribute more”.

The measures follow earlier news that the Bank of England has injected £150bn into the UK economy. Policymakers also kept interest rates at a record-low 0.1%, with Sunak adding that “all economic and monetary institutions are playing their part”.

Sunak added that the support provided will “protect millions of jobs” ahead of what he described as a “difficult winter”.

Despite the added support and a recent U-turn on the sale of alcohol, the Bank of England said the hospitality sector has “suffered from lockdown rules”, according to the BBC.

The government has already spent about £40bn on the furlough scheme since it was first announced in March, with roughly 9.6 million people benefitting from it.

In his latest announcement, Sunak also confirmed that upfront guaranteed funding for the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would increase from £14bn to £16bn.

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