Swindon & Wiltshire Business News

Government extends furlough scheme to March and increases self-employed support

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Chancellor Rishi Sunak

 

Businesses will benefit from increased support with a five-month extension of the furlough scheme into Spring 2021, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced today (November 5).

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will now run until the end of March with employees receiving 80 percent of their current salary for hours not worked.

Meanwhile, support for self-employed workers through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme will be increased, with the third grant covering November to January calculated at 80 percent of average trading profits, up to a maximum of £7,500.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: "I’ve always said I would do whatever it takes to protect jobs and livelihoods across the UK - and that has meant adapting our support as the path of the virus has changed.

"It’s clear the economic effects are much longer lasting for businesses than the duration of any restrictions, which is why we have decided to go further with our support.

"Extending furlough and increasing our support for the self-employed will protect millions of jobs and give people and businesses the certainty they need over what will be a difficult winter."

Welcoming the announcement Phil Smith, managing director of business support service Business West, said: “A further extension of the furlough scheme and more generous grants for the self-employed are important steps in protecting jobs and providing certainty for our business communities beyond the immediate shock of a four-week lockdown.

"These changes give businesses significant reassurance over an uncertain winter, but many will understandably still wish for the government to give a clearer view of the road ahead.

"Government must set out longer-term measures over the next 12 months to give firms greater certainty and confidence to plan proactively, rather than to react to changes in support from week to week.

“As well as support on jobs, reduced demand will impact firms’ cashflow across the country, not just those placed under the toughest restrictions. More generous grants will be required if those businesses are to weather a difficult winter ahead.

“Despite the Chancellor’s announcement, there are still many businesses and individuals who have, through no fault of their own, been unable to access any government support since the start of the pandemic and will require support if we are to avoid significant increases in unemployment and business failures.

“Ultimately, there can be no substitute for a fully functioning economy. Fundamentally, that means the government using the time afforded to them through another lockdown to significantly improve the Test, Track and Isolate system, which remains key to keeping the economy open.”