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17 December, 2020 Open access

Government announces extension of Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to the end of April 2021

Eligibility criteria for UK-wide scheme will remain the same as now and employers will continue to be paid 80 per cent of workers' salaries for hours not worked 

The government has announced that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) is to be extended to the end of April 2021.

Further to the government's November 2020 announcement of the extension of the CJRS to the end of March 2021, when it was also confirmed that a review would be undertaken in January 2021 to examine whether the economic circumstances are improving, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has today announced a further one-month extension.

Confirming the policy change today, Mr Sunak said -

‘Our package of support for businesses and workers continues to be one of the most generous and effective in the world - helping our economy to recover and protecting livelihoods across the country.

We know the premium businesses place on certainty, so it is right that we enable businesses to plan ahead regardless of the path the virus takes, which is why we’re providing certainty and clarity by extending this support, as well as implementing our Plan for Jobs.’

Providing further details of how the extended scheme will operate, Business Secretary Alok Sharma said -

'The Chancellor said he would review the employer contribution element of the CJRS in January, but decided to bring this forward to allow businesses to plan ahead for the remainder of the winter and the New Year.

The government will continue to pay 80 per cent of the salary of employees for hours not worked until the end of April. Employers will only be required to pay wages, National Insurance Contributions (NICS) and pensions for hours worked; and NICS and pensions for hours not worked.

The eligibility criteria for the UK-wide scheme will remain unchanged and these changes will continue to apply to all Devolved Administrations.

Extending the scheme until the end of April means businesses across the country will have certainty about what support will be available to them.'

In addition, the government has advised that the Budget will take place on 3 March 2021 when it will set out the next phase of support for the economy and businesses. As this is more than 45 days ahead of the new end date of the furlough scheme, the government says that businesses will have certainty about the ongoing support on offer from the government before deciding whether to trigger the 45 day consultation period required where redundancies of 100 employees or more are proposed.

NB - Mr Sunak also confirmed today that he will be extending the government-guaranteed COVID-19 business loan schemes until the end of March 2021

For more information, see Chancellor extends furlough and loan schemes from gov.uk