The furlough scheme will be extended this week as part of a month-long England-wide lockdown.
Boris Johnson finally bowed to pressure to pay workers in shut-down industries 80% of their normal salary.
That means the scheme is on a par with furlough when it first began in March – and more generous than it was last month.
However, it’ll still come crashing to an end on December 2 – and any area that goes back to Tier 3 must rely on 67% wage support.
Meanwhile there’s no confirmed extra support yet for the self-employed, with an announcement expected in the coming days.
So what has been announced and what does it mean for you? Here’s what you need to know.
What has happened to furlough?
Furlough was due to end on October 31 and be replaced with a new Job Support Scheme.
That ‘JSS’ would have been less generous than the original furlough scheme to people whose venues are forced to close.
Instead, furlough in more or less its original form has been extended until the lockdown ends on December 2.
Employees will received 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.
The cost for firms of maintaining the scheme will be cheaper than it was last month when furlough was being wound down.
Who can claim?
Like the original furlough scheme, anyone in the UK in any industry can claim, not just venues forcibly shut by the government.
Crucially, officials say furlough will also be open to new entrants for the first time since July 1.
Between July and October, only people who’d previously been furloughed could be put on the scheme.
Now, it is thought those who started their job before October 31 will be eligible.
This is a finally lifeline to “new starters” who were left in the lurch under the original furlough scheme.
However, no detail has been given about exactly how the new cut-off date will work.
What will happen after December 2?
Assuming the lockdown ends as planned on December 2, the furlough scheme will end too.
It will be replaced with the Job Support Scheme, which pays 67% wages to any worker whose venue is shut down by government.
The JSS also allows people to work part-time on as little as a fifth of their normal hours, for which they get between 73% and 100% of salary.
Unions and leaders in Tier 3 areas, mostly in Northern England, have said this will leave people destitute.
They fear what will happen when Boris Johnson returns England to the three-tier lockdown system in December.
What will happen to the self-employed?
More than 24 hours after the lockdown was announced, they have still been offered no new help.
Under current plans, self-employed workers will get a grant worth just 40% of their previous profit – and only get it in January.
Sole traders will qualify for up to £3,750, based on 40% of historic average profits over three months.
A second grant will be paid in around April 2021, but the level it will be set at has not been decided yet.
That’s a big improvement on the 20% previously announced, but it falls well short of the 80% and 70% offered in two previous grant schemes.
And thousands of self-employed workers still won’t qualify for the help.
The grant will only be available to those who were previously eligible for the the system of coronavirus self-employment grants.
People need to have filed a tax return for 2018/19 and need to take more than half their total income from self-employment, for example. New firms don’t qualify.
Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove hinted self-employed workers will be offered extra help in an announcement this week.
He told the BBC: “The Chancellor and his team are looking at every aspect of economic support and more will be said in the days ahead about how we provide it.”