Chancellor extends furlough scheme as online application portal goes live

An online application portal for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has been launched today as the initiative was extended by another month.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed on Friday that the CJRS would now be open until the end of June.

The scheme, which allows firms to furlough employees with the government paying cash grants of 80% of their wages up to a maximum of £2,500, was originally open for three months and backdated from the 1 March to the end of May.

However, the Chancellor said he would keep the scheme under review and extend it if necessary.

Mr Sunak, said: “We’ve taken unprecedented action to support jobs and businesses through this period of uncertainty, including the UK-wide Job Retention Scheme. With the extension of the coronavirus lockdown measures yesterday, it is the right decision to extend the furlough scheme for a month to the end of June to provide clarity.

“It is vital for people’s livelihoods that the UK economy gets up and running again when it is safe to do so, and I will continue to review the scheme so it is supporting our recovery.”

Businesses can now apply online for the financial support with the launch of the CJRS website which contains full details of who can claim and a calculator for contractors to work out how much they are owed.

Welcoming the extension of job retention scheme, Tracy Black, CBI Scotland director, said: “The Chancellor’s welcome extension of the Job Retention Scheme beyond the end of May will help protect the economy and prevent unnecessary job losses through this new lockdown phase. Once again, the government deserves credit for showing agility in the face of unprecedented challenges.

“This extension means that firms will no longer be forced to issue redundancy notices over the next few to days to comply with 45-day consultation requirements, and can instead return to focusing on protecting jobs and their businesses.

“No firm wants the scheme to last for longer than it needs to, but it’s absolutely clear that these vital support systems must stay in place until it’s safe for people to return to work and we can begin to restart and revive our economy.”

Dr Liz Cameron OBE, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, added: “The Scottish Chamber Network called for - and welcomes - this extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which provides a further level of reassurance to employers so they can continue to maintain jobs in these extraordinary times.

“However, it is clear that the furlough programme cannot be sustainable in the longer term. Business also needs to be sure there will be work to do when the employees come back, for example. This is why we also have called for clarity on a plan for recovery alongside measures which continue to prevent the spread of the virus and protect health.”

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