Prime Minister confirms furlough extension will apply if Scotland goes into lockdown later
Boris Johnson has confirmed that furlough will be available to protect Scottish jobs in the event of a second lockdown.
In response to a question from Douglas Ross in the UK Parliament, the Prime Minister said: “If other parts of the United Kingdom decide to go into measures which require the furlough scheme, of course it is available to them...it applies not just now but in the future as well.”
This comes after days where Johnson has refused to respond to questions from the Scottish Government and from MPs to confirm how the current funding package applies to Scotland and what funding would be available to Scotland if it needs to go into lockdown in the future after the furlough scheme extension up to 2 December ends.
Until yesterday’s change of heart, it had appeared to be the case that the furlough scheme would only be extended to cover the duration of the four-week lockdown announced for England.
The Scottish Government had only found about the lockdown and the furlough extension from the media, which was put in place after previous calls for more financial support from Scotland, Wales and the north of England had been refused.
Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said: “The Prime Minister appears to have agreed – at last – that the furlough scheme will be available to Scottish businesses after December if required
“While this is welcome, it has followed two days of completely unnecessary confusion which has left thousands of people fearing for their jobs at an already anxious time.
“We are seeking urgent clarification from the Treasury as to the exact terms under which the furlough scheme will be available to us.
“For example, we need to know that it will be at the full 80 per cent level currently available to businesses, that it will be available on the same eligibility criteria as before, and that the enhanced scheme to support the self-employed at 80 per cent rather than 40 per cent of income will also be available to Scotland when it is needed.
“People in Scotland and across the UK are making enormous personal sacrifices to help us reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
“All of us in government have a duty to offer them the support they need, for as long as they need it.”
Ross said: “This is a very welcome commitment from the Prime Minister that Scottish jobs will receive the same backing as jobs in England and across the UK.
“The Scottish Conservatives argued strongly that this cast-iron guarantee was an absolute must and it’s great news that it has been given.
“We now know that Scottish jobs will be protected by the UK Government furlough scheme, as they have throughout this pandemic, in the event of a second lockdown.
“The Prime Minister has made that clear guarantee and it’s very positive news for those Scottish jobs that might be under threat in the event of another lockdown.”