Just days after announcing the furlough scheme would be extended to cover the new coronavirus lockdown until Decembe3 2nd Chancellor Rishi Sunak has confirmed it will now be extended across the UK until March 31st next year.
He said the scheme would pay up to 80% of a furloughed person’s wages to a maximum of £2,500 a month and will be reviewed in January.
He told the House Of Commons his intention was ‘to give businesses security through the winter’ and added: “The security we are providing will protect millions of jobs.”
A unique part of the new scheme is that anyone made redundant after September 23rd can be re-hired and furloughed.
In his speech the Chancellor also announced increased support for the self-employed with a third grant under the Self-employed Income Support Scheme of 80% of average trading profits to a maximum of £7,500 to last between November and January.
Guaranteed funding for the devolved administrations has also been increased by £2 billion to £16 billion.
Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds criticised the announcement, accusing Mr Sunak of ignoring objections to the government’s measures ‘until the last possible moment’, pointing out that he had previously ‘ridiculed’ a furlough extension as ‘a blunt instrument’.
But the Chancellor defended his rapid change of policy, saying: “It is not a weakness to be fast-moving in a crisis, but rather a strength.”
Job Support Scheme
The planned Job Support Scheme for financial support after furlough ended has now been shelved until March next year.
The plan was to have grants of two thirds of the salary of each employee off work for a minimum of seven consecutive days.
Concerns still remain about the possibility of major fraud surrounding the scheme after HM Customs & Excise (HMRC) who administer it admitted that up to 10% of the £50 billion spent so far may have been lost through fraud or paid in error.
Around 9.6 million people have received money at one time or another with the biggest take-up being in the first few months of lockdown.