Furlough extended, confirms Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has confirmed the furlough scheme will be extended when the Budget is set out on Wednesday.

In December, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the furlough scheme will run until the end of April. It is now clear that it will be extended beyond this date, although the Business Secretary did not indicate how long for.

When asked directly if the scheme – which saw the government pay 80% of wages for those unable to work since the first Covid-19 lockdown – will be extended, Mr Kwarteng said: “The Chancellor has already indicated that we will be extending furlough; that has been part of a public announcement.

“It’s a fairly good assumption that, while lockdown persists, there will be additional support. It’s really important we don’t crush the recovery before it’s happened and… to keep people’s jobs going… to keep companies going, we need to continue providing support.”

Mr Kwarteng referred to multiple schemes that the Chancellor will be “looking to extend”. These included furlough, VAT holidays, Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loans and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

“If, as is expected and likely, the roadmap dates are met, we will be able to open up essentially Britain for business, almost back to normal, on June 21. This will be a good time to see exactly where we are, to drive economic growth.

“We can’t be in a position where we are effectively killing off, choking off the recovery before it has a chance to start and I think the chancellor is very focused on that.”

The Budget will be announced tomorrow at the House of Commons.

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