Great Britain

Chancellor Rishi Sunak will extend furlough scheme for workers hit hardest by latest coronavirus restrictions

RISHI Sunak has shelved his Budget of tax pain and will tomorrow extend furlough for some workers.

Amid another major spike in daily Covid cases, the Chancellor has delayed paying for the crisis until next year.

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And with growing Tory fury over the latest clampdown, Mr Sunak has bowed to pressure and will today unveil new measures to ­subsidise the wages of struggling hospitality staff, including pubs and restaurants, if they can find only part-time work.

The latest bailout plan comes as confirmed new coronavirus cases soared above 6,000 today — the highest daily number since May 1.

And 37 new deaths were confirmed today.

In a Commons statement tomorrow, the Chancellor is expected to announce a new “flexible furlough” scheme targeted at industries that will be hardest hit by the new Covid restrictions.

The Sun understands it will allow firms to reduce employees’ hours while keeping them in a job, with the Government paying part of the lost wages.

For example, a worker who usually works 37 hours a week would be able to do just 17 hours but still receive their full wage.

The company would be able to charge the remaining 20 hours of wage costs to the Government.

The Chancellor will put a cap on the subsidy going to each worker — expected to be similar to the £30,000 salary ceiling of the current furlough scheme.

The new scheme is aimed at avoiding major job losses in the hospitality sector.

It will follow dire warnings tonight that a quarter of all businesses in the sector fear they will go bust by the end of the year without further support.

But the plans faced major internal opposition from tax bosses who warned of the risk of fraud.

A source said: “HMRC are really nervous about this scheme and that’s why there’s been a delay. People would very quickly cotton on and commit widespread ­furlough fraud.”

Mr Sunak has been hugely reluctant to consider any form of extension of the furlough scheme.

But a source said the “Red Wall” group of Tory MPs — whose seats are most at risk of mass job losses — forced him to change his mind.

Transport Minister Robert Courts has privately told MPs that new flexible furlough will also be available to the aviation industry.

More than 33,000 people are believed to have lost their jobs in that sector already.


The Chancellor will also announce a new government jobs scheme aimed at retraining hundreds of thousands of people out of work due to the Covid crisis.

A Treasury source said: “Giving people reassurance and businesses the help they need to get through this is uppermost in his mind.”

Tonight the Treasury confirmed the Budget, planned for November, had been cancelled and will be replaced with a “Winter Economy Plan”.

Explaining the decision, a spokesman said it was too early to outline a long-term recovery ­strategy and the Government needed maximum flexibility to respond to the pandemic.

Mr Sunak’s furlough extension comes amid claims of a major rift between Boris Johnson and chief medical officer Chris Whitty.

And Tory MPs broke cover to demand that the pessimistic doctor should be sidelined.

They questioned data he used in Monday’s doom-laden presentation on Covid cases that forced Mr Johnson’s mini lockdown.

Party grandee Sir Desmond Swayne told The Sun: “After his performance at Monday’s press conference, he should consider his position or the Prime Minister might like to consider it.

“I thought it was very poor — he was terrifying the public by producing this graph and saying, ‘It’s not a prediction’. Well, what was the purpose of it then?”

But Downing Street hit back to say they had their full confidence in Professor Whitty and the advice he was giving the Prime Minister.

Denying any rift, a No10 source said: “There’s nothing but love from Boris for the boffins.”

The Sun says

WE argued that Rishi Sunak should not extend the furlough, as the Left demanded. That way, we said, lay fiscal madness.

But six months ago we could not envisage a Tory Government hammering the hospitality sector a second time and driving one in four firms to possible bankruptcy before the year ends.

And fiscal sanity is now long gone. So the Chancellor may be right to target yet more funds at those staff. None of this is their fault, nor their firms’.

But we will add this. The evidence that closing pubs and restaurants at 10pm will make a jot of difference to our rocketing infections looks dodgy at best.

Boris and his erratic boffins had better be sure of their ground. The cost looks utterly ruinous.

Meanwhile, the PM faces a major rebellion in a vote next week on extending the Government’s emergency coronavirus powers.

Dozens of Tories are threatening to vote for an amendment that would give MPs a veto over all future measures.

One, Richard Drax, said: “We are causing undue harm to our economy and to people’s health and livelihoods.”

UK coronavirus cases rise by 6,178 in 24 hours in the third highest day EVER

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