Northern Ireland news

Furlough scheme and coronavirus business support loans extended

UK Government Chancellor, Rishi Sunak has announced another extension to the furlough scheme
David Hughes, PA

The furlough scheme will be extended for another month, the British government has announced.

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

Chancellor Rishi Sunak also extended British government loan schemes until the end of March to help support businesses.

Mr Sunak said: "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.

"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 British 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.

Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald said the extension of the furlough scheme to the end of April 2021 will provide some clarity for workers and families. 

The party’s economic spokesperson said: “The extension of the furlough scheme until the end of April 2021 is good news for workers and families, and Sinn Féin have been calling for this clarity.

“It’s absolutely vital that workers and families have adequate financial support as we battle through the most difficult of times."

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