Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has welcomed the UK Government’s belated extension of the furlough scheme and confirmation it will extend to Scotland after a week of confusion and mixed messages.

The Job Retention Scheme has now been extended until March 2021. The UK Government originally announced the scheme would be extended until 2 December 2020 to coincide with the lockdown in England, initially refusing to say whether it would be made available for other parts of the UK if it was needed after 2 December.

On Monday, the Prime Minister gave a commitment that would be available for any future lockdowns in Scotland. However, the Treasury then refused to confirm it with journalists and the Scottish Government, and Tory ministers attempted to backtrack on the commitment.

Alasdair Allan MSP commented:

“The extension of the furlough scheme is welcome – but it comes after six months of consistent calls from the Scottish Government and other devolved administrations for a full extension. Only when a full national lockdown was needed in England were these calls heeded.

“There is absolutely no reason why businesses should have had to deal with this confusion. We now need to see the full details, such as whether it will apply equally at 80% to people in all levels of restrictions.

“While the extension of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme is also welcome, there are too many people being left behind because of gaps in the scheme. It desperately needs to be expanded to ensure support for people such as the newly self-employed.”

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