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UK extends furlough scheme by five months, gives more help to self-employed

Britain will extend its huge job-protecting furlough programme by five months until the end of Sept and expand parallel support for the self-employed, finance minister is due to announce

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Britain | Boris Johnson

Reuters  |  LONDON 

Boris Johnson
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson returns to 10 Downing Street after attending the last Prime Minister Questions session (PMQs) in House of Commons, before Christmas recess, in London | Photo: AP/PTI

LONDON (Reuters) - will extend its huge job-protecting furlough programme by five months until the end of September and expand parallel support for the self-employed, finance minister Rishi Sunak is due to announce in a budget speech on Wednesday.

Workers covered by the furlough scheme - currently about one in five private-sector employees - will continue to receive 80% of their salary for hours not worked.

But employers will have to start contributing to the cost as the reopens from lockdown, paying 10% of the hours their staff do not work in July, rising to 20% in August and September, the ministry said.

"Our COVID support schemes have been a lifeline to millions, protecting jobs and incomes across the UK," Sunak was due to say in his budget speech to parliament, according to excerpts sent to media by the finance ministry.

"There's now light at the end of the tunnel with a roadmap for reopening, so it's only right that we continue to help business and individuals through the challenging months ahead - and beyond."

The Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) had been due to expire at the end of April, raising fears of a sharp jump in unemployment at a time when the is still likely to be struggling under the weight of restrictions.

The Confederation of British Industry welcomed the move. "Extending the scheme will keep millions more in work and give businesses the chance to catch their breath as we carefully exit lockdown," CBI chief economist Rain Newton-Smith said.

The CJRS will cost 70 billion pounds ($98 billion) between its launch in March last year during the onset of the pandemic and the end of April, according to estimates made last month by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.

Sunak is also due to announce on Wednesday that a further 600,000 self-employed workers will become eligible for government support. Until now the government had only allowed applications from workers who were self-employed in the 2018-19 tax year, but eligibility for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will be expanded to those who first reported being self-employed in 2019-20.

A fourth SEISS grant for the self-employed will be available from next month worth 80% of three months' average trading profits up to 7,500 pounds in total, and details of a fifth grant would be provided on Wednesday, the ministry said.

 

(Writing by William Schomberg; Editing by Catherine Evans)

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Wed, March 03 2021. 06:52 IST
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