The furlough scheme has been extended - here’s what you need to know

As England prepares to embark on its second national lockdown on Thursday 5 November, the government has announced that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended for a month.

The scheme includes furlough pay, with the government paying up to 80% of the current salary for hours not worked by employees during the lockdown.

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Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: "Over the past eight months of this crisis we have helped millions of people to continue to provide for their families.

"As restrictions get tougher, we are taking steps to provide further financial support to protect jobs and businesses. These changes will provide a vital safety net for people across the UK.”

Here is everything you need to know about it.

When is furlough being extended until?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the Government will extend furlough payments at 80% to December, for the duration of the new national lockdown measures.

He said: “We are going to extend the furlough system through November. The furlough scheme was a success in the spring and supported people in businesses in a critical time. We will not end it, we will extend furlough until December.”

The Job Support Scheme, which was due to start on 1 November, has been postponed as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is being extended.

Could the furlough scheme be extended again?

Despite the furlough scheme’s extension, the new measures will be “time-limited”, starting on November 5 and ending on December 2, when the Government will seek to “ease restrictions” and go back into the tiered system.

However, the end date of the second lockdown is not necessarily set in stone, and national restrictions could last longer than an initial four weeks and extend well into December, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove admitted.

Mr Gove warned that if the R value – the average number of people infected by one infectious person – does not drop, the restrictions could be extended.

Mr Gove said it would be “foolish” to predict what would happen with the pandemic over the next four weeks, and conceded the lockdown may have to be extended.

Asked whether the national lockdown could be extended, he replied: “Yes.”

It remains to be seen whether, in the light of an extension to the national lockdown, the furlough scheme would also once again be extended, but it is likely to be an option for government ministers.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: "I have always said that we will do whatever it takes as the situation evolves. Now - along with many other countries around the world - we face a tough winter ahead."

What are the rules of furlough?

Furlough is payable at 80% up to a maximum of £2,500 for the duration of the package of tougher national measures. The support will be available across the UK.

Business premises forced to close in England will also receive grants worth up to £3,000 per month under a Local Restrictions Support Grant.

A further £1.1 billion will be given to local authorities – distributed on the basis of £20 per head – for one-off payments to support businesses.

Furlough will also be open to new entrants for the first time since July 1.

For more information, head to the government’s website

A version of this article originally appeared on our sister title, the Yorkshire Evening Post