Sturgeon calls for clarity over furlough extension

The scheme has been extended for a month as England enters a four-week lockdown.

Sturgeon calls for clarity over furlough extension Getty Images
Coronavirus: Calls for clarity over furlough scheme.

The First Minister has called for clarity surrounding the furlough scheme, as the UK Government extended it for a month.

The payment of 80% of workers’ wages has been restored after a four-week lockdown, from November 5 until December 2, was announced south of the border.

However, Nicola Sturgeon wants to know whether the UK-wide extension is available to devolved administrations for November only or on a more flexible basis.

Additionally, she said she will be looking to clarify whether it is only accessible to Scotland if the country has a full lockdown at the same time as England.

In Scotland, a new five-tier system of restrictions will come into effect on Monday.

Sturgeon said expects to have further discussions with the UK Government about additional support in the coming days.

Responding to Boris Johnson’s announcement, she said: “We will carefully consider the impact of today’s announcement in England – however, we will continue to take decisions that reflect circumstances in Scotland.

“We expect to have further discussion in the coming days about the scope of additional financial support being made available.

“A crucial point for us is whether support on the scale announced for English businesses is available for Scottish businesses now or if we needed to impose further restrictions later — or if it is only available if Scotland has a full lockdown at the same time as a lockdown in England.

“However, notwithstanding the above, today’s developments should be a reminder to people across Scotland of the need to follow the rules and not to put their own twist on them.

“It is important we all comply with the rules in our area if we are to successfully suppress the virus, protect the NHS and keep as many businesses and services open.

“People across Scotland have faced significant restrictions since late September as we work to stop the increase in Covid cases across the country. Prevalence of the virus is currently lower in Scotland than in other parts of the UK and there are some signs that those earlier restrictions may be starting to slow the rate of increase.”