Summer lockdown alert: Furlough ‘to be extended for months’ sparking fears of Boris delay

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The news is a huge blow to Tory backbenchers who have been demanding coronavirus restrictions be lifted completely by May.

The coronavirus job retention scheme had been due to end on April 30, but the Chancellor is now thought to be preparing to extend furlough until the summer according to the Financial Times.

Mr Sunak will present his Budget on March 3, just 10 days after the Prime Minister outlines his roadmap out of lockdown on Monday.

The Treasury announcement is thought to be closely linked to Mr Johnson’s timetable to ending restrictions, with the Chancellor eager to protect jobs until the vaccines have been successfully rolled out and society is back to normal.

The Prime Minister has warned he will ease lockdown restrictions “cautiously” with the timetable for unlocking likely to be slow.

He has also hinted the reopening of hospitality could be one of the last areas of the economy to return.

“I certainly think that we need to go in stages.

“We need to go cautiously,” he said on a visit to a mass vaccination centre in Cwmbran, south Wales, on Wednesday.

“You have to remember from last year that we opened up hospitality fully as one of the last things that we did because there is obviously an extra risk of transmission from hospitality.”

A Treasury spokesperson said: “We’ve already extended our furlough scheme through to April so that people have certainty that help is in place.

“We will continue to invest in protecting and creating jobs through the remainder of the pandemic and through the recovery, and we will set out further details via the next stage of our Plan for Jobs at the upcoming Budget.”

More to follow…

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