Furlough scheme and coronavirus business support loans extended

UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said the furlough scheme will run until the end of April 2021. Picture by Yui Mok/PA Wire.

THE furlough scheme will be extended for another month, British Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced on Thursday.

The scheme was due to expire at the end of March but the extension suggests the UK Government believes the economy will still be struggling to cope with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

New figures published by HMRC on Thursday showed 68,000 workers were still furloughed in Northern Ireland at the end of October.

The number had increased to 74,000 during October, but tailed off again to the end of the month.

Rishi Sunak has also announced the extension of UK Government loan schemes until the end of March to help support businesses.

"Our package of support for businesses and workers continues to be one of the most generous and effective in the world - helping our economy to recover and protecting livelihoods across the country," said the chancellor.

"We know the premium businesses place on certainty, so it is right that we enable them to plan ahead regardless of the path the virus takes, which is why we're providing certainty and clarity by extending this support, as well as implementing our plan for jobs."

Mr Sunak also announced that the next Budget will be on March 3, 2021.

Under the furlough scheme the Government will continue to pay 80 per cent of the salary of employees for hours not worked until the end of April.

Employers will only be required to pay wages, National Insurance Contributions (NICS) and pensions for hours worked; and NICS and pensions for hours not worked.

The business loans schemes had been due to close at the end of January.

The schemes, which will now stay open until the end of March are: The Bounce Back Loan Scheme, Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

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