Furlough scheme extended as England prepares for national lockdown

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The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended for a month, with employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked.

In addition, business premises forced to close as a result of the national lockdown – kicking in on 5 November – will receive grants worth up to £3,000 per month under the Local Restrictions Support Grant.

£1.1bn is being given to Local Authorities, distributed on the basis of £20 per head, for one-off payments to enable them to support businesses more broadly.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “Over the past eight months of this crisis we have helped millions of people to continue to provide for their families. But now – along with many other countries around the world – we face a tough winter ahead.

“I have always said that we will do whatever it takes as the situation evolves. Now, as restrictions get tougher, we are taking steps to provide further financial support to protect jobs and businesses. These changes will provide a vital safety net for people across the UK.”

So far the furlough scheme has protected over nine million jobs across the UK, and the self-employed have received over £13 billion in support.

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NOW READ: England to start four-week national lockdown on 5 November

Richard Burge, Chief Executive of London Chamber of Commerce, said: “This is a lockdown like earlier this year, regardless of how it’s described, and the financial support given to businesses and workers must reflect that, as we are back firmly in business survival mode.

“Details of the support package must accompany the restrictions when put before Parliament next week.  At face value, return of 80% furlough is welcome. Grants must also be made available. Rates must be reimbursed. Bank interest and charges should be suspended and they should be required to offer government-backed loans again. It is time for them to deliver the social obligation they are trying to avoid.

“The Government must also urgently provide clear evidence about how they are going to improve Test and Trace, so that we can break this cycle of lockdowns and restrictions. It does not have to be world beating, just simply good enough.

“In London, this Government stand-off with the Mayor has to end. There’s no excuse for politics getting in the way of the recovery of the nation’s most valuable economic asset.  This isn’t about London being special, it’s about it being essential.”

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