Furlough extended in Budget but Brits fear it means more brutal lockdown

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As part of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s 2021 Budget, the coronavirus furlough scheme will be extended until the end of September.

The scheme, which Mr Sunak says uses the “full measure of our fiscal firepower” to save jobs will last in total some 17 months.

The extension of furlough for an additional five months, at an estimated cost of at least £10 billion, means the scheme will extend well beyond the expected final easing of lockdown restrictions on June 21.

“Our Covid support schemes have been a lifeline to millions, protecting jobs and incomes across the UK,” Mr Sunak said.

“There’s now light at the end of the tunnel with a road map for reopening, so it’s only right that we continue to help business and individuals through the challenging months ahead — and beyond.”

The furlough programme – officially the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – is credited with saving more than 11 million jobs since its creation last March.

People on the scheme receive 80% of their salary — up to a maximum £2,500 a month — for hours not worked until the scheme ends.

From July, employers will be expected to chip in 10% of the cost, and that contribution will increase to 20% in August and September.

Mr Sunak said “We’re using the full measure of our fiscal firepower to protect the jobs and livelihoods of the British people. First, we will continue doing whatever it takes to support the British people and businesses through this moment of crisis.

“Second, once we are on the way to recovery, we will need to begin fixing the public finances and I want to be honest about our plans to do that. And, third, in today’s budget we begin the work of building our future economy.”

However, social media users are concerned that the announcement means lockdown could be extended too.

One wrote: "How can lockdown restrictions end in June but furlough is extended till September? Am I missing something?" and another added "….this is why furlough has been extended to September. And when we reach September, the colder weather will push up cases again meaning lockdown all the way thru to Easter 2022."

The chancellor is expected to extend a number of other business support themes as part of today’s budget, including the business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure and a VAT cut for the hospitality and tourism industries.

These additional measures are expected to cost taxpayers in the region of £8 billion if they are extended for three months beyond the end of March.

  • The Budget

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