The furlough scheme that pays 80 per cent of the wages of people who cannot work because of the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown has been extended until the end of March 2021

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Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced the move in the House of Commons on Thursday afternoon, on the day the new lockdown rules came into force in England.

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He said thee furlough change will apply across the whole of the UK.

The measures mean employers will have to pay just national insurance and pension contributions for staff who cannot work.

The furlough scheme initially ended at the end of October having been wound down to 60 per cent of pay.

Mr Suynak then extended it into December in the face of the new lockdown and tiered restriction rules.