It is being reported today that Chancellor Rishi Sunak is looking set to extend the furlough scheme and business rate relief until the summer.
According to the Financial Times and the Telegraph, Mr Sunak is expected to announce in his Budget next month that the UK government’s Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme – dubbed furlough, which has been supporting employees unable to work during the COVID-19 pandemic by paying 80% of wages up to £2,500 a month – is now to be phased out from autumn, rather than the current date of 30th April.
It’s also been reported that he is expected to announce that the year-long business rates holiday for the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, will also continue beyond the previous end-date of 31st March.
Mr Sunak will again issue his final report on a review of business rates in the autumn instead.
These two expected announcements will come as a relief for employers and staff who are at present unsure as to exactly when their businesses will be allowed to welcome back customers again amid England’s current third national lockdown.
The reports also appear to indicate that some job support is still set to stay in place even after the furlough scheme ends, as well as an emergency £20-a-week increase in Universal Credit expected to be extended by six months, and The Treasury is also said to be considering tax increases in an effort to balance the books, with the UK’s budget deficit predicted to hit £394 billion this financial year.
The most significant tax increases are not expected to be tackled until the November Budget however, when it is hoped the UK has emerged from lockdowns.
Speaking ahead of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget announcement next month, A Treasury spokesperson said: “We’ve already extended our furlough scheme through to April so that people have certainty that help is in place [and] we will continue to invest in protecting and creating jobs through the remainder of the pandemic and through the recovery.
“We will set out further details via the next stage of our Plan for Jobs at the upcoming Budget.”
For the latest information, guidance and support during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the UK, please do refer to official sources at gov.uk/coronavirus.