Furlough and business support post lockdown

Mr Johnson said the details of continuing support will be set out by the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak next week.

He said: “People may be concerned about what these changes mean for the various support packages, for livelihoods for people and for the economy.

“So I want to assure the House, we will not pull the rug out.

“For the duration of the pandemic, the government will continue to do whatever it takes to protect jobs and livelihoods across the UK.

Mr Sunak is under pressure to extend measures such as the furlough scheme, which is due to expire at the end of April, when he delivers his Budget on March 3.

The Budget also sets duties on fuel, cigarettes and alcohol as well as the minimum wage.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said “it makes no sense” that Johnson did not outline any extensions to existing Covid support today.

“The Prime Minister says the budget will be next week, but there’s nothing stopping him saying today that business rates relief will be extended, that furlough will be extended or that the VAT cut for hospitality and leisure will also be extended,” he said.

The Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme (CJRS)  known as furlough, has already been extended three times since Mr Sunak announced it last year.

It is currently due to wind up at the end of April, but it is likely Mr Sunak will extend it again due to the latest lockdown.

Mr Sunak will likely want to extend the furlough scheme until the economy has reopened properly – or risk mass job losses.

Mr Sunak could announce a fourth round of the Self Employed Income Support Scheme, which gives grants to freelancers and people who run their own businesses.