Alongside the review of the tier system, there was the ominous announcement yesterday that the furlough scheme will be extended until April. Does this mean 68% of the English population will be stuck in Tier 3 – or worse – until then? The Telegraph has more:
Rishi Sunak will extend the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for another month to support the economy while the Government rolls out its mass vaccination programme against COVID-19. The scheme will continue to pay 80pc of salaries, despite hints that this level might be reviewed in the new year. As of the end of October, 2.4 million jobs were still furloughed, with 1.4 million fully furloughed and just short of 1 million using the scheme on a part-time basis.
Accommodation and food services accounted for the largest share at just over 600,000 as swathes of the hospitality industry remain under tight restrictions. The Treasury is also extending its business loan guarantee schemes until the end of March, making it easier for companies to borrow to get through the economic downturn.
More than £68 billion has been lent through the Treasury’s initiatives, with the Office for Budget Responsibility predicting about a third of the loans will not be repaid by firms. At the same time, the Bank of England said it would pump more cheap funds into banks to encourage SME lending, while keeping interest rates on hold at 0.1%.
Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said: “Setting out a clear plan to extend the CJRS to the end of June would boost business confidence and mitigate the numerous uncertainties firms are facing as a result of the pandemic, as well as any challenges they may face arising from the end of the Brexit transition and over the timing of economic recovery.”