Chancellor extends furlough scheme to March 2021

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has confirmed the government's furlough scheme will be extended until the end of March 2021 for the whole UK.

Sunak told the Commons that the government will look again at the scheme in January 2021, but for the time being up to 80% of a person's wage (up to £2,500 a month) will continue to be paid out by the policy.

The news will be welcomed by many businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, but no sector-specific support for the hospitality industry has been announced.

As part of the extended policy, those made redundant since 23 September will be eligible for rehiring to be put back on furlough.

Sunak also confirmed the government will increase support for those needing the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme - the third grant that covers the period from November to January 2021 will be calculated at 80% of average trading profits, up to a maximum of £7,500.

“Extending the furlough scheme is a big boost and will help secure hospitality jobs in the medium term across the whole of the UK," says UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls. 

"Keeping jobs alive during this lockdown and throughout a bleak-looking winter period, which is likely to see businesses trading under severe restrictions, is key to the future survival of the sector.

“Hospitality is facing a tough winter ahead, though, and businesses will need additional support if they are to survive.

"We will need enhanced grant support to keep venues alive and a solution to the ongoing rent debt problem that continues to linger over the sector.

"These must come alongside a clear roadmap for a return to business. Without these, the extended furlough scheme alone is not enough to keep hospitality alive and will have been a wasted investment of public funds.

“Surviving the winter is just the first step, too. Beyond that we need action to ensure that businesses can be revived and the sector can play its part in rebuilding the economy.

"Extending the VAT cut and business rates holiday, coupled with extensive government promotion of tourism and hospitality, will be the bare minimum required.”