The furlough scheme has been extended in England to March 2021.
I welcome the extension of the furlough scheme and the additional help to the self-employed in the current circumstances.
We all hoped that, after the initial lockdown, we would have a sustainable path to re-opening our economy early. As we learn more about the COVID-19 virus and how it spreads and the speed and ease with which it does so, it is right that we look further ahead armed with that new knowledge.
Over the coming months we are likely to see more changes to our everyday lives and to our working lives as we adapt to new knowledge about the virus and try and support our economy and protect our health. I have no doubt that during that period there will be loosening of restrictions, tightening of restrictions, support for more industries who can’t re-open and getting others moving where they can safely. The extension to the furlough package is part of the support for our economy.
The virus spreads so rapidly that no-one should expect that a measure announced today will be appropriate to the situation in a few weeks or months. That is the only rational approach to a situation which changes rapidly. In our area along infections rose ten-fold over six weeks in September and October. That kind of change in circumstances cannot be ignored. This approach demonstrates that we are being agile and responsive as circumstances develop and change. The ability to be agile and responsive is a key strength in a rapidly changing situation.