Rishi Sunak extends UK furlough scheme to the end of March

Rishi Sunak announced on Thursday that the UK government’s furlough scheme will be extended until March, with 80 per cent of wages subsidised throughout the winter for those unable to work.

The chancellor’s decision to extend the furlough scheme represents another policy U-turn for the Johnson government, which has had to tear up its economic plans as it has struggled to cope with the economic impact of coronavirus.

“The furlough scheme will not be extended for one month, it will be extended until the end of March. The government will continue to help pay people’s wages up to 80 per cent,” he told MPs on Thursday.

Mr Sunak said that the policy would be reviewed in January to see whether the level of contribution from employers should increase, depending on the economic situation.

The chancellor also addressed criticism that the government was not offering equal levels of wage support across all four nations of the UK. He said he was leading “the Treasury for the whole of the United Kingdom”.

“The furlough scheme was designed and delivered by the government of the United Kingdom, on behalf of all the people for the United Kingdom wherever they live. It is a demonstration of the strength of the union,” he said.

Last month, Mr Sunak argued that it was time to reduce and retire the most generous elements of the furlough scheme. “I don’t think the right thing to do is to endlessly extend furlough,” he said then.


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