The UK-wide furlough scheme is set to extend until the end of March, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) will run into the spring of 2021 with employees receiving 80 per cent of their current salary for hours not worked.
Similarly, the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will be increased, with the third grant covering November to January calculated at 80 per cent of average trading profits, up to a maximum of £7,500.
Sunak said: ”I’ve always said I would do whatever it takes to protect jobs and livelihoods across the UK, and that has meant adapting our support as the path of the virus has changed.
“It’s clear the economic effects are much longer lasting for businesses than the duration of any restrictions, which is why we have decided to go further with our support.
“Extending furlough and increasing our support for the self-employed will protect millions of jobs and give people and businesses the certainty they need over what will be a difficult winter.”
The Chancellor also announced an increase in the upfront guarantee of funding for devolved administrations from £14bn to £16bn. This will continue to support workers, business and individuals in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
BCC director general Adam Marshall called the moves “important steps in protecting jobs and providing certainty for our business communities beyond the immediate shock of a four-week lockdown”.
“These changes give businesses significant reassurance over an uncertain winter, but many will understandably still wish for the government to give a clearer view of the road ahead,” he added.
“Government must set out longer-term measures over the next 12 months to give firms greater certainty and confidence to plan proactively, rather than to react to changes in support from week to week.”