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Finance Minister responds to news of furlough extension

Rebecca Evans

Finance Minister Rebecca Evans has today welcomed the extension of the furlough scheme to March next year, but warns that the UK Government’s last minute U-turn has already caused irreparable damage to people’s lives.

The Minister also urged the Chancellor to take action to backdate support for Welsh businesses and workers for the entirety of the 17 day firebreak so they were not disadvantaged.

Finance Minister, Rebecca Evans said:

“I am pleased that businesses and workers now have some much needed certainty, but it is unacceptable that the UK Government waited until a nationwide England lockdown before acting.  For many businesses and workers this extension has come too late.

“It is now clear that the Chancellor could have provided greater support for Wales’ essential 17 day fire break. I will continue to press HMT to backdate support for this period.

“While the funding guarantee we negotiated offers some forward notice on new funding, the need for greater budget flexibilities is more pressing than ever to help us manage the impact of the pandemic as we approach the end of this financial year.

Commenting on the news that the furlough scheme will be extended to March, Ben Francis, FSB Wales Policy Chair, said:

“This latest intervention from the Chancellor is bold and much-needed. The ability to furlough staff on these terms until March will give employers an acutely-needed injection of confidence as they head into the festive period beset by disruption. Enabling firms in any location to furlough staff is a very welcome move.

“It’s encouraging to see the extension of generous support to around two million self-employed people – who don’t enjoy many of the benefits afforded to employees, and are the employers of the future – outlined today.”