Furlough to be extended until end of October

By Nicholas Robinson

- Last updated on GMT

Tweet news: Rishi Sunak extends furlough for four months
Tweet news: Rishi Sunak extends furlough for four months

Related tags Coronavirus

The Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), commonly known as furlough, will be extended by four months to the end of October, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak outlined in a series of tweets today (12 May).

Setting out his four-point plan at 12.35pm, Sunak said the CJRS would continue, therefore providing UK businesses with eight months’ worth of support.

However, he did not clarify what the scheme would look like following the last extension after the end of July, saying “until the end of July, there will be no changes to the scheme whatsoever”.

He continued in a second tweet: “From August to October the scheme will continue, for all sectors and regions of the UK, but with greater flexibility to support the transit back to work.

“Employers currently using the scheme will be able to bring furloughed employees back part time.”

The cost of paying salaries

Businesses and employers will be asked to start sharing, with the Government, the costs of paying people’s salaries, he said in a third tweet.

Further detail about the process and what it will look like would be announced at the end of May, Sunak said in his fourth and final tweet when announcing the new plans.

“But I want to assure people one thing won’t change,” he continued, adding: “Workers will, through the combined efforts of Government and employers, continue to receive the same level of support as they do now, at 80% of their salary, up to £2,500.”

The announcement is expected to give the pub trade additional breathing room in the months ahead, with recent Government plans showing that from 4 July, should the circumstances allow, some pubs will be allowed to open their doors for the first time in months.

However, there is still much work needed to further support the pub trade once lockdown is lifted because social distancing is likely to impact business’s sales, with many operators arguing their will be no point in opening until the virus has been eradicated.

In a Government document released shortly after his Twitter announcement, Sunak said: “Our Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has protected millions of jobs and businesses across the UK during the outbreak – and I’ve been clear that we want to avoid a cliff edge and get people back to work in a measured way.”

Flexibility to businesses

He added: “This extension and the changes we are making to the scheme will give flexibility to businesses while protecting the livelihoods of the British people and our future economic prospects.”

Recent statistics show the scheme has seen 7.5m workers across the UK placed on furlough by almost 1m businesses.

As well as extending furlough, the Government has said it will explore ways to help furloughed workers to carry out training or gain additional skills.

Federation of Small Businesses national chairman Mike Cherry said: “The job retention scheme is a lifeline that has been hugely beneficial in helping small employers keep their staff in work, and it’s extension is welcome.

“Small employers have told us that part-time furloughing will help them recover from this crisis and it is welcome that new flexibility is announced today.”

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