Britain’s Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has extended the country’s furlough scheme for employees by a month so that it will now end in April next year instead of March.
Sunak has also extended the loan scheme for businesses so that struggling firms can now apply for government loans until the end of March.
“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,” Sunak said.
Thus far, the government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has protected 9.6 million jobs across the UK, the government said, and over a million businesses have accessed loans.
Hard to SurviveDespite the government support, however, many businesses, especially in the hospitality and retail sectors, have found it hard to survive the devastation the UK economy has suffered since the onslaught of the virus in the spring.
The country, with a population of 67 million people, has lost 819,000 jobs since then, official statistics show.
Redundancies have reached a record high while the number of job vacancies has fallen dramatically.
In the three months to October, redundancies rose from 217,000 to 370,000, setting a new historic record and the UK had an estimated 547,000 job vacancies from September to November, 251,000 fewer than a year ago.
'Additional certainty'“We know that business owners need additional certainty as we head into the New Year,” he added.
The extra funding required to support government support schemes, combined with reduced tax revenues and a fall in gross domestic product (GDP), have all helped push Britain’s public sector net debt to a new high.
After the spending surge authorised by Sunak, Britain is on course to borrow £400 billion ($543 billion) in the current financial year, equivalent to almost 20 percent of its economic output, or double the level of the global financial crisis.
Public debt has meanwhile soared above £2 trillion ($2.72 trillion) and stands at more than 100 percent of gross domestic product, its highest since the 1960s.