When does the furlough scheme end?

Central pillar of government’s economic support measures extended to 30 September

Rishi Sunak hints at tax rises in Budget next week

The furlough scheme has supported millions of jobs, paying up to 80 per cent of wages for workers whose jobs have been impacted by the pandemic.

After being extended multiple times, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – to give it its official title – was set to end on 30 April.

However, after some not-so-subtle hints that another extension may be on the way, the government confirmed it will end on 30 September.

Employees will continue to receive 80 per cent of their salary for hours not worked, but unions and industry warned that the chancellor is risking jobs by requiring employers to contribute 10 per cent towards pay in July and 20 per cent in August and September while the state covers the rest.

However, Michael Gove has indicated that the government is “open minded” about extending the sceme.

Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, will use a four-nations summit with Boris Johnson on Thursday to push for the job retention scheme to continue beyond its current September expiry date.

When asked about the possibility of it being extended, Mr Gove said: "We are open minded, yes."

Speaking ahead of the four-nations summit on tackling Covid, the Cabinet Office minister said the initiative, which sees the taxpayer pay cash towards workers' wages, had been a "huge success" that was only possible "thanks to the broad shoulders of the UK Treasury".

He insisted higher spending as a response to the coronavirus pandemic would continue, as the country as a whole seeks to "build back better".

The Scottish government has voiced concerns about a possible return to austerity from the Conservatives at Westminster, but Mr Gove told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme: "We'll be spending more.

"We'll be spending more on the NHS, we will be spending more on education, we will be spending more on criminal justice, because in all of these areas it is absolutely vital that we build back better.

"Extra funding for everyone will continue, and it is important we all learn from each other about how that money should be spent."

The additional contributions will coincide with the planned lifting of lockdown restrictions which it is hoped will also bring increased revenues for businesses. All dates for easing are subject to change and are dependent on progress with bringing the virus under control.

The extra financial burden will give employers difficult decisions to make about whether to keep on staff.

Meanwhile, more than 600,000 self-employed people excluded so far from the government’s support package will be able to claim direct cash grants, as the government’s self-employment income support scheme (SEISS) is extended to cover those who began working for themselves in 2019-20.

Furloughed staff can continue to work part-time with their employer paying only for the hours they are needed.

Employers pay National Insurance and pension contributions for all of the furloughed staff member's hours, including those not worked.

Official figures show the number of furloughed workers rose by 700,000 to 4.7 million in January during the third lockdown.

However, experts have also warned that keeping a blanket measure in place which protects some jobs that may not have a future is damaging for the economy in long term.

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