The jobs furlough scheme set up in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak is to be extended until the end of March, Rishi Sunak has told the Commons.
In a major U-turn by the government, the Chancellor said the move is needed because of the economic situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Sunak said the government’s highest priority remains “to protect jobs and livelihoods”.
What has Rishi Sunak announced?
The jobs furlough scheme has been extended until the end of March.
Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, employees will receive 80% of their current salary, up to £2,500 a month, for hours not worked.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak also announced an increase to the support available for self-employed people.
The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will be increased to 80% of average trading profits, up to a maximum of £7,500, covering November to January.
What has changed?
The jobs furlough scheme was initially meant to end on October 31, but was extended to provide support during England’s month-long lockdown, which is due to end on December 2.
Mr Sunak has now announced the scheme will last until the end of March to support people who may not be in work after December 2.
The SEISS was recently doubled from 40% of average profits to 55% in November when England's lockdown was announced.
But the self-employed grant has been increased further, Mr Sunak revealed on Thursday, and the overall level of the grant has increased to 80% of trading profits covering November to January, capped at £7,500.
Who can apply for the schemes?
The jobs furlough scheme is available to employees who are on the payroll on October 30 and must be claimed by the employer.
Employers who were on the payroll on September 23 and who was were made redundant or stopped working can be re-employed and claimed for.
Self-employed people will be able to apply for the SEISS from November 30 – rather than the middle of December – to help provide support faster during the second lockdown.