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Chancellor Rishi Sunak Extends Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Until October

No changes to the scheme until end of July, though more flexibility will be applied for August, September, and October

BRITAIN-HEALTH-VIRUS TOLGA AKMEN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has confirmed the government’s employee protection programme, the coronavirus job retention scheme (CJRS) — known as furlough — has been extended until October.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Sunak said that the scheme, which pays 80 percent of employees wages up to the value of £2,500 per month and which was due to end on the 30 June, will be extended until the end of July unchanged; for the months of August, September, and October, more flexibility will be applied: Companies will be able to bring workers back part-time. (At the moment the scheme only subsidises workers who are not working at all.)

Sunak said that after July, the government will require employers to make contributions and share responsibility for those payments, but confirmed that employees will continue to receive the same support as they have done under the scheme since March — 80 percent of wages. Further details will follow by the end of May, he added.

It will take the total period of time in which the scheme has run to eight months. He did not mention any sector-specific changes being made to the scheme, which the hospitality industry had called for earlier today.

The restaurant industry, as early as this morning, had maintained that it requires support until the end of the year at least.

Reacting to the announcement, the chief executive of the restaurant industry’s principal trade body UK Hospitality, Kate Nicholls said: “An extension of the scheme is a sensible, positive and timely move.”

She said her organisation would now actively engage with government about how the scheme will operate during the period in which Suank said employers would be required to contribute to the wage payments. “The full 80 percent of wages may need to be extended beyond July for some businesses in sectors like hospitality that will still operate at much reduced levels of trade, or not yet be able to open,” Nicholls said. “Our businesses will need as much warning as possible if they are to be expected to plan ahead for eventual venue re-openings.”

The chief executive also stressed the need for the government to introduce sector-specific measures — that “increased flexibility [in the scheme] for hospitality will be equally vital” because businesses like restaurants are not able to “go from standstill to full capacity overnight.”

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