The leave program will be extended by one month, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced.
The program was set to expire at the end of March, but the extension suggests the government believes the economy will still struggle to cope with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr. Sunak also extended government loan programs until the end of March to help support businesses.
The Chancellor said: “Our business and worker support program continues to be one of the most generous and effective in the world, helping our economy recover and protecting livelihoods across the country.
“We know that premium companies rely on certainty, so it is only right that we allow them to plan ahead regardless of which path the virus takes, which is why we are providing certainty and clarity by extending that support, as well as implementing our jobs plan. ”
Mr. Sunak also announced that the next budget will be March 3, 2021.
As part of the leave scheme, the government will continue to pay 80% of employees’ wages for hours not worked until the end of April.
Employers will only be required to pay wages, National Insurance Contributions (NICS) and pensions for hours worked; and NICS and pensions for hours not worked.
Business loan programs were due to close at the end of January.
The programs, which will now remain open until the end of March, are: Bounce Back Loan Program, Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Program (CBILS), and Large Interruption Loan Program. company against the coronavirus (CLBILS).
The programs helped keep the economy alive, but added to the pandemic’s exorbitant cost to the public purse.
Official figures showed £ 46.4 billion in paid leave under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme had been claimed for 9.9 million jobs at 1.2 million companies since its launch in April.
So far, £ 43.5 billion in rebound loans have been made to companies.
Around £ 19.6bn has been made available under CBILS and almost £ 5bn in CLBILS, aimed at large companies.
Labor accused Mr Sunak of waiting until the “last possible minute to act” – “leaving companies in the dark with less than 24 hours before having to issue layoff notices”.
Phantom Chancellor Anneliese Dodds said: “Rishi Sunak’s irresponsible and last-minute decision-making has left the UK with the worst recession of any major economy.”
But the extension was hailed by industry groups, including the British Beer and Pub Association, whose CEO Emma McClarkin called it “an extremely positive decision”.
However, she urged the government to “focus on a support program to protect hotel businesses as well as commit to a roadmap to exit this crisis in accordance with the vaccine rollout.”
“Pubs and brewers need more financial support, extended holidays for businesses, VAT cuts and a reduction in the tax rate on beer,” she said.
“Only with this kind of support will UK breweries and pubs be able to reopen, continue to employ all staff currently on leave and help lead the economic recovery if needed.”
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said the extension would bring “much needed certainty and respite” to businesses.
Rain Newton-Smith, the organization’s chief economist, said: “Stable employer contributions and an extension of the job retention program until the end of April will mean the program will continue to protect the livelihoods of workers. people.
“And with cash flow difficulties still at the forefront of concerns for many business owners, continued access to government guaranteed loans until the spring will be of great comfort.”