Brits made redundant in the last few weeks because of the planned end of furlough may be able to stay on at their companies because of the extension in the job support scheme planned, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said.
Tens of thousands of workers are facing unemployment as struggling companies shed staff with government support ending.
The scheme was due to end on Saturday, but Boris Johnson confirmed that it would be extended through the end of next month during the new lockdown.
But companies had already made may jobless through redundancy schemes announced before the extension.
British employers planned to make redundancies at close to a record level in September, a BBC FoI revealed last week.
Some 1,734 employers notified the government of plans to cut 20 or more posts, close to the peak levels seen in June and July.
Those were the highest levels seen since 2006, the earliest date for which figures have been published.
But Mr Sunak suggested that for a minority of those workers they may still be able to be furloughed for an extra month.
The Chancellor suggested that those who were still on payroll on October 30 could find their post extended for a month if their employers were willing to foot the cost.
Asked if self-employment support would rise to 80% from around 40%, the Chancellor said self- employed grants cover a much longer period than the furlough scheme.
“Directionally of travel, the 40% will go up to reflect the fact that at least one of those months of support will be at a higher level for those who are in employment,” Rishi Sunak told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
Mr Sunak said: “For the self-employed, coming on top of our comprehensive and generous set of support that we have already put in place … we have announced extensions to our self-employed grants.
“And what we have done, typically, during this crisis, is adjust the value of the grants, as we have adjusted the value of the support to those who are employed.”
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: “Bearing in mind they are slightly different programmes, and self-employed grants are for three months at a time versus furlough at a month at a time.
“But, broadly, we have adjusted those things and you can expect us to do the same again here, and the Prime Minister will have details of that.”
Mr Sunak said: “What’s clear is that the virus is spreading even faster than the reasonable worse case of our scientific advisers.
“And the models suggested that, unless we acted, we would see deaths in this country running at levels in excess of where they were in the spring – a peak of mortality far higher,” the Chancellor told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“And we saw incidents, even in areas where it’s currently low, rising at a very rapid rate, which would mean that, in a matter of weeks, the NHS would be overwhelmed.”
The Chancellor said: “Although things are difficult in the short term, the longer we look out, I think there are reasons for cautious optimism.”
Pressed on whether the R rate was key to restrictions being lifted on December 2, Rishi Sunak told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It would be wrong to say there was one single indicator.
“There is a range of different things we look at.”