BODIES representing UK businesses have described their relief after the furlough scheme was extended until October 31.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the Government will continue to pay the wages of workers on leave because of coronavirus – a lifeline for many businesses across the country.

Furloughed employees, therefore, can continue to receive 80 per cent of their monthly wages up to £2,500 until the end of October.

The Treasury said 7.5 million workers – around a quarter of the UK’s total workforce of 33m people – were covered by the scheme, which has cost around £14bn per month.

From August, the scheme will continue for all sectors and regions of the country with employers currently using the scheme being able to bring furloughed workers back to work part-time.

Employers will, however, be asked to pay a percentage towards their wages.

The Chancellor will attempt to reduce the cost of the of the scheme to the taxpayer, but full details are yet to be established.

The Confederation of British Industry said the extension “avoids a June cliff-edge and will protect millions of jobs”.

Mike Cherry, chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “This lifeline has been hugely beneficial in helping small employers keep their staff in work, and its extension is welcome.

“Small employers have told us that part-time furloughing will help them recover from this and new flexibility is welcome.”

Adam Marshall, director-general at the British Chambers of Commerce, added: “The extension of the job retention scheme will come as a huge help and a huge relief for businesses across the UK.

“The changes will help businesses bring their people back to work through the introduction of a part-time furlough scheme.”

For advice about the furlough scheme contact JWP Creers chartered accountants.

Charlotte Granger