Sunak extends furlough to entire of UK till March 2021

Originally written by Anna Jordan on Small Business

Rishi Sunak has announced details of COVID-19 financial support for businesses in all parts of the UK.

He has confirmed that workers will get access to the furlough scheme up to 80 per cent (capped at £2,500 a month) until the end of March 2021 across the UK. Employers need only cover NICs and pension contributions.

The upfront funding for devolved nations also goes from £14bn to £16bn.

This move comes just a few hours after the Bank of England said it was pumping an extra £150bn into the economy.

Sunak added that he will redeploy job incentive schemes at a more suitable time.

However, the chancellor has faced criticism for reintroducing the furlough scheme when Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and parts of northern England had harsher restrictions and didn’t receive such generous funding.

The Welsh government was unhappy when its pleas for more funding during their ‘firebreak’ lockdown last month. It had to rely on its own coffers to fund a £300m grant scheme.

Experts argue that such short-term measures aren’t helping businesses to plan for the future. Richard Churchill, a business advisory partner at Blick Rothenberg, said:

“Currently business decisions are inextricably linked to the various coronavirus measures in place. However, these remain hopelessly short term. With the rehashed Job Retention Scheme coming to an end on December 2, the likelihood of a tiered Job Support Scheme to follow, short term extensions to the coronavirus lending schemes extended only to January 31 and scant detail on the announced successor loan scheme.

“Businesses are faced with making decisions as to the future of their business on a weekly basis. This results in a lack of confidence to invest in their future and a reactive business environment when long term planning and growth is needed.”

Musab Hemsi, partner at LexLeyton, is more optimistic: “It will give business leaders the financial assurance and time they need to plan and weigh up their options as they look beyond this lockdown with a view to reopening, in some capacity, for the festive period.”

Further reading

Government extends business furlough scheme until December at 80%

Sunak extends furlough to whole of UK until March 2021

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