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Tue, 1 December 2020

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Rishi Sunak Is Under Pressure To Extend Furlough To The Spring

Rishi Sunak Is Under Pressure To Extend Furlough To The Spring
3 min read

Pressure is mounting on the Chancellor to extend the coronavirus Job Retention Scheme until the spring to protect jobs after the month-long lockdown, due to begin in England tonight.

As non-essential businesses close from midnight and people are advised to work from home again, The Confederation of British Industry has made a final plea to Rishi Sunak ahead of his fourth Winter Economic Plan update to the country on Thursday (November 5). 

Director General of the CBI, Carolyn Fairbairn, tweeted: “As lockdown shutters come down for many firms, extending furlough till next Spring is the right thing to do. 

“Firms and employees need more certainty and stability to plan and recover; a JRS extension will help. Rishi Sunak should act in his statement tomorrow to protect jobs.”

The Job Retention Scheme has been extended until December 2, with 80 percent of people’s wages paid up to £2500 a month to furloughed staff. The CBI would like to see it extended to the Spring – although the organisation would allow the level of cover to taper off.

It was intended that a Job Support Scheme would replace that by paying two-thirds of wages for those who could work 20 percent of their hours until April 2021. It is currently on hold until after the England lockdown is over. 

Fairbairn’s pressure on the Chancellor to extend furlough further comes as Scottish MPs are expecting to hear confirmation that the Treasury will support the devolved administrations with the furlough scheme at 80 percent of wages, should they go into lockdown beyond December 2. 

Boris Johnson said in the House of Commons today that Sunak is expected to announce Scotland and Wales can access furlough tomorrow in his fourth economic statement in weeks following mounting pressure from MPs. 

The Prime Minister said Sunak would address support for the devolved nations should they decide they need to go into lockdown at a later date. 

The SNP’s Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, asked the Prime Minister to confirm if Scotland would receive 80% furlough and self-employed payments at the same eligibility criteria as given to England. 

The SNP believe Johnson appeared to confirm this by responding "I in no way budge from that commitment" and said the Chancellor would outline the plans tomorrow.

The Treasury confirmed that the Chancellor would be addressing financial support for the devolved administrations. 

It comes ahead of the Bank of England announces its November monetary policy decision at 7am on Thursday, earlier than the initial time of midday to avoid a clash with Sunak. 

“Due to the Chancellor’s statement, scheduled for Thursday afternoon, the Bank has brought forward the publication time of its Monetary Policy Report,” the BoE said.

Economists polled by Reuters expect the BoE to expand its asset purchase programme by 100 billion pounds to 845 billion pounds due to the deteriorating economic outlook as England enters a second lockdown.

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