Rishi Sunak has extended the Government’s furlough scheme until March 2021. With a second lockdown coming into force across England, the Chancellor has said the scheme will continue to pay a maximum of 80% of a person’s wage up to £2500 a month.

Speaking in the House of Commons Mr Sunak confirmed similar support will remain in place for the self-employed but also explained that the extension meant plans to pay a £1000 job retention bonuses to companies for every furloughed staff member they kept on until the end of January would be scrapped.

Almost 9 million people from more than one million companies were furloughed across the first lockdown at an estimated cost of more than £40 billion. That number has dropped considerably over the past couple of months, though as many as 2 million people, largely in the hospitality and leisure sectors, were still on furlough through October,

Speaking about the extension Mr Sunak said, ‘We will review the policy in January to decide whether economic circumstances are improving enough to ask employers to contribute more… Our highest priority remains the same: to protect jobs and livelihoods.’ 

Nevertheless the length of the extension has led to extensive speculation by the media that the second lockdown is set to last far longer than the government initially indicated.